Updated: 11:10 p.m.
Saying neither unit performed well enough up front in Sunday's 30-20 win in Jacksonville, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said his team has to play better in next Sunday's Paul Brown Stadium game if it wants to beat the winless Colts.
Lewis may have given his players a "Victory Monday," which means no team meeting with the caveat that they have to get one lift in either Monday or Tuesday, but that didn't stop him from working them over in his Monday news conference. An average of 2.5 yards per rush on offense, a slew of missed tackles as well as a blown coverage for a touchdown on defense, and a missed extra point had Lewis steaming.
"No," Lewis said when asked if any position group played with any consistency.
Lewis did say he liked the work of both units in the red zone. The offense scored touchdowns on the two trips it tried and the defense kept the Jaguars from scoring two touchdowns in their three forays into the red zone.
But, "We can't play like that," Lewis said of the overall effort.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was just as unhappy with the overall running game.
"A 35 mile-per-hour wind and they're playing Cover 2. That's the one time you want to be able to run the ball," Gruden said. "I think the offensive line and tight ends and backs and receivers will tell you they didn't have their best game."
Gruden said one reason wide receiver Jerome Simpson struggled blocking in the running game is he hurt his shoulder early in the game.
» Lewis said he's in charge of getting running back Bernard Scott in the rotation with Cedric Benson in an effort to lighten the load of Gruden and running backs coach Jim Anderson. Lewis liked that he got Scott six carries, one that went for a two-yard touchdown on third down for the go-ahead TD with 1:56 left. He also noticed Scott trying to heave the TD ball to his family in the upder deck.
"I didn't know he had that good of an arm," Lewis said. "Expensive."
He was referring to the fine that comes with tossing a ball in the stands, somewhere along the lines of $1,000.
» Benson and Lewis say they haven't heard anything about an appeal of Benson's three-game supension for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Benson's lawyer has asked the NFL to hold off on issuing a ruling until a non-injury grievance is heard, as well as his case against the NFL Players Association in front of the National Labor Relations Board.
Benson indicated Monday that his hearing before the NLRB is Tuesday, which could indicate this is another week the NFL doesn't rule and he plays. Both Lewis and attorney David Cornwell have said the latest the team should be informed of a suspension during the week is Tuesday because of game plan preparation.
Benson thoroughly agreed with Lewis and Gruden on the state of the running game and vowed he wouldn't play like that again after gaining just 53 yards on 24 carries.
"It was an ugly win. I think as an offense not one of us played our best game. We all left things out there and could have played better," Benson said. "We came through with the win and we can hang our hats on that, but at the same time we've got a lot of things we can grow from.
"Tough day sledding. It definitely wasn't my best game. I definitely will improve. Nothing like that will ever happen again. You have to take advantage of the few opportunities you get. Especially in a crazy game like that."
Asked about the rotation in which Bernard Scott basically split the first half series with him before Benson got most of the work in the second half, Benson said he's just trying to stay focused on his job.
But he tipped his hat to Gruden for putting Scott and running back Brian Leonard in a passing formation on the two-yard line for Scott's go-ahead TD on a third-down run.
"They didn't expect that at all. That made it easy for a walk-in touchdown," Benson said. "If my presence when I'm off the field loosens guys up, I always try to be a force out there in any way I can. (The Jags) eased back a little bit (for the run)."
Gruden says he believes Benson, a guy that cherishes his carries, is with him when it comes to the team concept of getting as many athletes involved as possible.
"Can't make everyone happy but as long as they buy in," Gruden said. "It's a team game number one and the most important thing is you win the game. I know everyone wants to have great fantasy football numbers but that's not always going to be the case.
"The better we get the more (Benson) will buy in. He's going to have to because it's going to get tougher every week. If everyone doesn't buy in, we don't have a chance. We need him to buy in for us to have a chance because he's the big back that you need in big games."
» Take a look at Dalton's 37-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver A.J. Green on Sunday on third-and-17 and you wonder why some of the national media guys are waiting to pull the trigger on him.
He used great protection in the pocket to let a long route develop, patiently waiting for wide receiver Andre Caldwell to take the safety with him through a zone so that Green would be a step behind the cornerback.
"He did a great job with his eyes and looked all the way down through (Caldwell)," Gruden said. "(Caldwell) took two guys, the corner and the safety, and that enabled A.J. to get some room out there and he gave him a great ball. Not too much (air) where they could react to it. He threw it on the line where only A.J. could get it."
That's what Dalton wasn't supposed to do coming out of a college spread offense. So engrained with getting rid of the ball on a three-step drop, scouts wondered if he would hang in the pocket long enough to let plays develop. It was a 37-yard, four-second answer.
"He's getting better every week at that," Gruden said. "Early on, that was one of his knocks. A little anxious to get the ball out of his hands that he wasn't waiting for some plays to develop. We're working very hard at that."