Slants and screens: Green: 'I won't quit'; Vikes offense exploits rookies


 Giovani Bernard couldn't find any room in the Purple Haze Sunday.

MINNEAPOLIS - A.J. Green would only call it a low point after Sunday's 34-7 loss to the Vikings. Not the lowest But it is the nadir of the Green-Dalton Era. After they reached the 2015 postseason for the fifth straight time, they've now had two losing seasons at 11-18-1 and haven't hit double-digits in points in five games this season.

"We've won a lot of games here," Green said. "You're going to have seasons like this. All I can control is my effort. I'm not going to quit. It's not in me. Those are words I live by."

Green isn't getting any help around him. No wide receiver had more than two catches and when he had just two catches for 30 yards Sunday it marked just the fourth time in the last four years he's had one or two catches in a full game.  Old friend Mike Zimmer went at him as expected. He mixed it up, putting Xavier Rhodes on him man-to-man, or helping him with the safety.

"They played a good scheme," Green said. "Every game plan is taking me away."

And how they are taking him away. The numbers are jarring. Green has just 980 yards, only 16 more than he had last year when he missed seven games with a partially torn hamstring.

-The linebackers can't catch a break. All three starters were cleaned out with injuries before the game, leaving them with just four and three of them rookies, and during the game they briefly lost Jordan Evans (elbow). They may have lost Vincent Rey (jaw) for the season when he went straight to the locker room after being prone on the field for five minutes late in the game.

So rookie Brandon Bell made his debut one day off the practice squad and rookie right end Carl Lawson had to take a couple of snaps at backer for the first time since the preseason.

And just like the Bears did the week before, that's where the Vikings attacked. The middle of the field. They still haven't covered a running back. Jerick McKinnon had the easiest of three catches imaginable for 41, 29, and 31 yards on the way to 114 yards receiving after grabbing 298 all year. No one was near him.

"Exchanges in communication," said rookie middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson after his first NFL start. "We just have to get better at the communication when we're passing stuff off. They weren't doing anything too crazy. Everything we practiced we saw in the game. So it's more about going out there and executing. Different coverages have different progressions and who pushes it out. We have to get back and get those things cleaned up."

-The injuries and the lack of offense have killed the defense. After leading the NFL for the most consecutive games without allowing 30 points, they've done it for two straight games for the first time since Oct. 5-12, 2014 when they gave up 80 in a loss and tie to New England and Carolina.

After getting out-snapped again Sunday by 61-51, the Bengals defense has faced more snaps than any in the league with 958.

 -Wide receiver Tyler Boyd, the wide receiver with the most catches other than Green and Dalton, was a surprise scratch. Word is he got lifted so rookie runnig back Jarveon Williams, just called up from the practice squad, could play.

Cincinnati Bengals take on the Minnesota Vikings in week 15 of the regular season.

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