Head coach Zac Taylor said they got hit in the mouth. Quarterback Andy Dalton said they got hit in the mouth. Both defensive ends, Carlos Dunlap and Sam Hubbard, said the Bengals got hit in the mouth.
"I'm not surprised. Everybody wants to hit us in the mouth," said Dunlap after Sunday's jaw dropping 41-17 loss to the 49ers in the Paul Brown Stadium opener. "That's what they should do. That's what they want to do. And how we respond, we have to make more plays than they do and out execute them in the game plan and you've got a great chance of winning. We didn't help ourselves in any of those aspects."
Proof of how the 49ers manhandled the Bengals was stark in the two columns that never lie. They gave up 259 yards rushing and rushed for just 25 and they don't do that every day. It's the fewest yards they've ever rushed for in a home game and the fifth most they've allowed on the ground. It's the fewest amount of yards they've had rushing since they won the Wild Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh with 14 on Dec. 23, 2012.
"They did a lot of lead bend plays where it was the front side and then they bounced it back out and got on the edge," Hubbard said. "All of us, the linebackers, the secondary, did a poor job of tackling. That's what it came down to."
- Taylor can take heart. His predecessor, Marvin Lewis, lost his PBS opener, 30-10, and started 0-3 before appearing in first place in mid-November on the way to 8-8. But he knows it can't look like that.
"Penalties (seven) and tackling," said Taylor of his two priorities. "We have to own this. We got blown out at home … "I need to get better. You learn from your experiences, and so far, through two games I have learned a lot but I still have a long way to go. Again, we aren't pointing fingers at anybody. I should be pointing a finger at myself as much as anybody else in this locker room. Again, we can all make improvements. I'm going to be better every week to give these guys the best chance to win the football game. It's on all of us to band together."
- The Bengals offensive line continues to take a battering and you wonder when it will stop because any offense is only as good as its line. Jonah Williams is on IR, Cordy Glenn is in concussion protocol and the Bengals went down to their fourth left tackle when Andre Smith suffered a groin injury in the first half. Back-up guard-tackle John Jerry moved into left tackle during a game the Niners hit quarterback Andy Dalton six times, four for sacks.
Then in the middle of the fourth quarter rookie left guard Michael Jordan got carted off with a knee injury, but it appeared he had suffered only a bruise. Still, when Billy Price came off the bench to replace him, they had no linemen left. Just no consistency. No chance to get settled. Barely had Price gone in there when he was called for a hold that wiped out wide receiver Tyler Boyd's 16-yard TD catch.
Center Trey Hopkins thinks Smith would have come back in and gutted it out if something happened to Jerry or right tackle Bobby Hart.
"That's the kind of character he has," Hopkins said. "The roster is put together with guys that can play or they wouldn't be on it."
But Dalton isn't going to talk about the constant shuffles of the line.
"We expect whoever is in there to get the job done," Dalton said. "Would we like to have one starting five play the whole year? Absolutely. I think that's how everybody wants it to be. But that's not this game. We know injuries happen, so guys have to step up and play. Whoever is in there has to get the job done."
- The line fluctuation has to be a reason running back Joe Mixon is trying to find room after his first 17 carries of the season have gone for 27 yards. That's after 17 on 11 carries Sunday, which was better Giovani Bernard's six-for-six.
And the defending AFC North rushing champion is frustrated.
"For me, I have a lot of catching up to do. I have goals for myself and the team that I want to hit," Mixon said. "Everybody as a team has to come together. We all have to take looks in the mirror."
With the Bengals trailing, 14-7, late in the first quarter it looked like Mixon was starting to roll. On first down from the Bengals 38, Mixon went to the perimeter for four yards and then on the next snap bolted behind Hopkins and right guard John Miller for 12. But Andre Smith was called for holding and the drive died in two more snaps.
"I think today we saw a glimpse of (the running game), it was just offset by penalties," Hopkins said. "We were never in a rhythm to consistently run the ball because we're so far behind the chains and the scoreboard. That was big part of it. We just haven't been in situations where we can get in a rhythm to run the ball."
Check out some of the best game action and fan photos from the Bengals' Week 2 contest against the San Francisco 49ers. Who Dey!
- Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd had the fourth 100-yard game of his career with 10 catches for 122 yards and wide receiver Jon Ross became the first Bengals' wide receiver to have back-to-back 100-yard games since Boyd last season when his 66-yard touchdown catch with 45 seconds left gave him 112 on four catches. That's the first time the Bengals have had two 100-yard receivers since wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert in the 2016 tie with Washington in London and the first time two wide receivers did it since Green and Marvin Jones in the 49-9 PBS win over the Jets in 2013.
Ross, who came into the season with 210 career yards, has 270 this year.
But Ross was thinking about a long ball he could have caught earlier.
"I blew it. I slowed down, and sometimes I just need to trust my speed," Ross said. "I got a second chance at the end of the game. The coaches told me, 'When you catch something like that, just run through it.' In college, my coaches always told me to run through the smoke. I got another chance, but I should have broke the first one, in my opinion. I tried to make a move, and that wasn't a good idea."