STL-CIN Grades: Defense helps Bengals get back on track
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Bengals’ 31-7 win over the Rams.
St. Louis Rams
– Another game and another pair of nightmarish throws from Nick Foles (-2.9). There are so many problems in his game right now that it’s difficult to see him ever regaining the form he had in Philadelphia a couple of years ago. His pick-six was one of the worst throws I’ve seen all season, as it combined two huge no-nos for a quarterback: throwing late over the middle and throwing across his body.
– If there is one consistent bright spot for this offense, it’s Tavon Austin (+2.1). He once again broke another big play on Sunday, a 60-yard run on a jet sweep that set up the Rams’ only touchdown on yet another jet sweep from Austin. Both plays were made possible by nothing other than Austin’s pure speed to the corner. The third-year receiver broke a ridiculous six tackles on six receptions, and had 42 of his 33 yards come after the catch on the day.
– Is it too soon to trash the Greg Robinson (-3.3) pick? Even if the No. 2 overall pick from 2014 does somehow turn it around, they’ve still wasted two years out of a possible five-year rookie deal with truly dreadful play from the left tackle. He’s now had six straight games of -2.0 play or lower after allowing six pressures on Sunday.
DT Aaron Donald (+2.7)
DE William Hayes (+2.4)
WR Tavon Austin (+2.1)
LB Akeem Ayers (+2.1)
RB Tre Mason (+0.9)
– After a fantastic start to the year, Andy Dalton (+0.1) has returned to approximately the same player he’s been his entire career, with a +1.5 overall grade since Week 5. He’ll make absolutely gorgeous throws over the middle of the field, like the touchdowns to A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, but then panic when plays break down, and force it into small windows like the Janoris Jenkins interception and the near pick from Darren Bates in the back of the end zone. Both were late throws, and both windows were shrinking quickly.
– Facing one of the best defensive lines in the entire NFL, the Bengals’ offensive line acquitted themselves nicely. No player graded higher than +1.0, but only Russell Bodine (-2.5) and Andre Smith (-1.3) graded negatively. That’s usually considered a success against a front four that, just last week, handed our top-graded guard, Marshal Yanda, his lowest-graded game in two seasons. They combined to allow only five pressures on the day.
– Quite the eventful day for Dre Kirkpatrick (+2.0), who had by far his best game of the season. The cornerback was targeted 11 times and allowed six catches, but for only 34 yards. He also had three pass breakups, and he actually led the Bengals in stops with five. Even on some of the first downs he did concede, Kirkpatrick was in solid position to secure the tackle. It was only his second positively graded game all season.
DT Geno Atkins (+6.3)
CB Leon Hall (+3.6)
DE Carlos Dunlap (+3.2)
DE Wallace Gilberry (+2.4)
WR A.J. Green (+2.1)