Record: 9-7-0 (3rd in AFC North); 4-4 at home, 5-3 on road
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis
|September 11||at Cleveland||W||27-17||67,321||Cleveland Browns|
|September 18||at Denver||L||22-24||73,281||Sport Authority Field at Mile High|
|September 25||San Francisco||L||8-13||43,363||Paul Brown|
|October 2||Buffalo||W||23-20||41,142||Paul Brown|
|October 9||at Jacksonville||W||30-20||61,799||EverBank Field|
|October 16||Indianapolis||W||27-17||52,068||Paul Brown|
|October 30||at Seattle||W||34-12||66,004||CenturyLink Field|
|November 6||at Tennessee||W||24-17||69,143||LP Field|
|November 13||Pittsburgh||L||17-24||63,262||Paul Brown|
|November 20||at Baltimore||L||24-31||71,320||M&T Bank|
|November 27||Cleveland||W||23-20||48,260||Paul Brown|
|December 4||at Pittsburgh||L||7-35||63,697||Heinz Field|
|December 11||Houston||L||19-20||41,202||Paul Brown|
|December 18||at St. Louis||W||20-13||56,431||Edward Jones Dome|
|December 24||Arizona||W||23-16||41,273||Paul Brown|
|January 1||Baltimore||L||16-24||63,439||Paul Brown|
|January 7||at Houston||L||10-31||71,725||Reliant|
The 2011 NFL season was threatened due to a labor dispute that began in March and lasted until July 25 when the owners and players finally came to an agreement. Training camps opened three days later and the Bengals hit the ground running with a new quarterback, a new offensive coordinator and low expectations following a 4-12 season in 2010.
Widely forecast in August 2011 for a season of double-digit losses, the Bengals finished 9-7 and earned the franchise’s second playoff berth in the last three years. The postseason came to an abrupt end with a 31-10 loss at Houston in an AFC Wild Card playoff but the season was viewed as a positive step for an organization in transition.
The Bengals hit the jackpot with first-round draft choice A.J. Green at wide receiver, and second-round pick Andy Dalton played like a first-rounder at quarterback. Green set a new Bengals rookie mark for receiving yards with 1057, breaking Cris Collinsworth’s previous record of 1009, set in 1981. Green came up two short of tying Collinsworth’s rookie record for receptions. Green had 65 catches, while Collinsworth caught 67 in his rookie campaign.
Dalton became the only rookie in NFL history to throw for 20 or more TD passes while starting eight or more victories. He became the NFL’s only rookie QB not drafted in the first round to start 16 games for his team, much less start 16 and lead the team into the playoffs. Dalton was only the fifth rookie to pass for 3000 yards, and with Green, he formed the NFL’s first rookie duo with 3000 passing and 1000 receiving yards.
Cincinnati’s Week 1 roster was the AFC’s youngest, but the Bengals spurted to a 6-2 first half. Dalton and Green proved ready for prime time, as did new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, whose primary experience prior to 2011 was in the Arena Football League and United Football League. The Cincinnati defense finished No. 7 in the NFL in fewest yards allowed, and its 45 sacks were just three short of the franchise record.
The Bengals also set themselves up well for the future by dealing former franchise quarterback Carson Palmer to Oakland for a first-round draft pick and a conditional second-round pick.
2011: A CLOSER LOOK