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Bears claw Bengals, 33-7

Posted Dec 10, 2017

Still hung over from Monday night’s bitter, brutal Brawl in the Paul II loss to the Steelers, the Bengals went comatose Sunday and turned the Bears into the Monsters of the Midway during a 33-7 blow-out loss as stunning as Monday night’s blown 17-point lead against the Steelers.

Still hung over from Monday night’s bitter, brutal Brawl in the Paul II loss to the Steelers, the Bengals went comatose Sunday and turned the Bears into the Monsters of the Midway during a 33-7 blow-out loss as stunning as Monday night’s blown 17-point lead against the Steelers.

For the first time in the seven seasons of the Green-Dalton Era, they didn’t show up in any phase.  

It was their worst loss since the 43-17 prime-time downer in Foxboro to the Patriots in 2014.

But they were 3-1 after that. Now they're 5-8.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis didn’t have six of his defensive starters when Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins (toe) didn’t play after early in the game and it looked like it when Chicago’s NFL worst offense chewed them up in both the air and on the ground in a first half they took a 12-7 lead with 256 yards, 19 shy of their average for a game.

But it got out of hand in the second half when Bears running back Jordan Howard again sailed up the middle with 9:18 left for an eight-yard TD that made it 33-7. That gave the Bears 465 total yards, 190 more than their dead-last average, on the strength of 22 plays of at least 10 yards.  It also ended the Bengals’ NFL-best streak of 22 straight games not allowing 30 points on their way to giving up a season-high 482 yards to No. 32.

The offense may have been worse because at least they had quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green But if you saw the first month of the season, call it up because that’s how much their stars struggled. Dalton, who missed on 14 of his first 27 passes while amassing just 141 yards, saw his streak of 193 straight passes without an interception snapped with 3:15 left in the third quarter when Green let the ball go off his hands that looked to be a very catchable ball that was picked off by safety Eddie Jackson at the Bengals 43, but Green said it was tipped before it got to him.

Then early in the fourth quarter Green caught a ball on the sidelines, but Jackson ripped it out of his hands and the Bears got their second turnover of a very bad offensive day. The Bengals dropped four balls in the fourth quarter against the Steelers and the mojo between Dalton and his receivers was just as bad Sunday.  

From his 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon LeFell with 2:15 left in the first quarter until the start of the fourth quarter, Dalton had a passer rating of 0. He ended his day of 14 of 29 for 141 yards and a 59.7 passer rating before he was mercifully lifted for AJ McCarron with 4:41 left. Trubisky, a 52-percent passer with a 70 rating, nearly doubled Dalton Sunday with a 112 on 25 of 32 for 271 yards. Meanwhile Howard ripped off 147 yards on 23 carries as the Bears took dead aim at the Bengals depleted linebackers.

Trubisky killed them on short, quick passes. Wide receiver Kendall Wright, anchor of what is supposed to be a bad group of receivers, had 107 yards and converted third-and-five on the killing drive in the third quarter.

Nothing fancy. Tight end Dion Sims, one of two Bears tight ends with first-down catches, ran free down the middle for 19 yards to set up Trubisky’s four-yard keeper on a zone read that made it 19-7 with 4:54 left in the third quarter and that was pretty much it.  

Dalton completed just six of 14 passes in the first half and in the final 1:40 he got chased out of his end zone with no one open on first down and then on second down he got sacked and nearly for a safety when left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi got bulled by Roy Robertson-Harris. It ended a horrendous half of offense that kept going in the second half. They went back to their early-season funk of 3-for-12 on third down, got outsnapped by 19 plays (72-53), which means they had no shot to take advantage of 13 carries for 5.4 yards per carry.

Green and Dalton never got in sync. Of his 12 targets, Green caught just five for 64 yards and his longest play was 20.

But it was worse on defense. Trubisky clearly went after the linebackers with short, safe passes and clicking on 17 of 23 passes for 170 yards and the one incompletion in the first half was a Hail Mary.

The Bengals trailed, 9-7, in the middle of the second quarter but had the Bears backed up. But Trubisky hit rookie tight end Adam Shaheen for 18 yards covered by safety George Iloka and on third-and-eight the suddenly ubiquitous Wright found 10 in a zone. Even a holding call didn’t stop them and on fourth-and three Trubisky went after the middle of the field and found Shaheeen again, this time for 16 yards in a wide-open zone to keep the chains and clock rolling.

By the time the dust cleared the Bears had reeled off 15 plays in 8:11 to get old friend Mike Nugent’s 27-yard field goal that made it 12-7 with 1:46 left in the half on the strength of 6.9 yards per 14 rushes with Howard racking up 63 yards on 11 carries.

Nugent’s 34-yard field goal 2:22 into the second quarter gave Chicago a 9-7 lead. On that drive Trubisky ran the same play-action naked bootleg to wide receiver Joshua Bellamy that picked up 16 yards earlier and this time it went for 36 yards through a wide-open middle and then rookie running back Tarik Cohen wriggled through two missed tackles for a touchdown, but it was called back on a hold.

Dalton wasn’t very crisp early, missing eight of his first 15 throws. After running back Giovani Bernard ran a third-and-six draw for nine yards with the help of blocks by left guard Clint Boling and Ogbuehi, the Bengals had to punt when Dalton badly threw behind LaFell for an incompletion and on third down he led Green too far down the right sideline when he had a step on cornerback Kyle Fuller.

Dalton, who came into the game without an interception in the last six games, flirted with one late in the first quarter but Green caught the carom off a Bears defender for a 13-yard gain. The two put the Bengals in the red zone on a nine-yard slant to Green and that’s where Dalton hit LaFell breaking wide open  of safety Deon Bush on a flag route for 14-yard touchdown catch that made it 7-6 late with 2:15 late in the first quarter.

They got the running game going in that drive when Bernard set sail on a 21-yard sweep with Ogbuehi over on the other side paving the way.

But that was it. Bernard had 60 yards on nine carries in the half but there was no sense of continuity. Dalton went 0-for-4 passing in the second quarter and Bernard ended up with 62 yards on two more carries the rest of the way.

The Bears racked up three consecutive plays for 51 yards that resulted in Howard’s 21-yard waltz-in-the-park touchdown run  that gave the Bears a 6-0 lead when Nugent clanked the extra point off the right upright.

That was just four minutes into the game, which also saw the Bengals commit three penalties after racking up a franchise-record 173 penalty yards on Monday night.

Bellamy was wide open for 16 yards on that naked bootleg and then Cohen burned the second level when he got hemmed in on a sweep to the right side and then patiently exploded up the sideline for 14 yards on a play eerily similar to Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell’s  wide-open touchdown run on Monday night. The elusive 5-6 Cohen added 80 yards on 6.7 per bolt, including the longest run of the day on a 29-yarder, the longest run the Bengals have allowed since Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's 49-yard scrambling TD in the second game.

Then on the next snap Howard didn’t get touched after two games the Bears could manage just 62 yards on the ground last week against the 49ers and six rushing yards the week before against the Eagles.  

 The Bengals promptly committed two penalties in the game’s first two minutes when fullback Ryan Hewitt was called for an illegal block in the back on the opening kickoff and right tackle Andre Smith false started on third-and-three.

Dalton picked up the third-and-eight when he hit wide receiver Alex Erickson over the middle, but then he threw three straight incompletions and two of them went to Green. Dalton fired a risky throw over the middle, where Green was blanketed. Then on second down Dalton lofted a nice fade down the left sideline but Green couldn’t hang on. Then on third-and-10, the Bears blitzed two backers and Dalton  had to unload it in a hurry and overthrew wide receiver Tyler Boyd in the flat.

 

 

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