ReFo: Bengals @ Saints, Week 11
This is the outcome people would have expected if the Bengals and Saints played Week 3. The Bengals got back to their efficient offense and defensive ways while the Saints continue to make fans scratch their heads on both sides of the ball.
This one was all but over midway through the third after Jermaine Gresham caught his second touchdown pass of the day to make it 20-3. The Saints would add a touchdown early in the fourth to make it a game, but they lacked all consistency in their offense and the game ended with a 27-10 Bengals victory. Let’s take a look at who stood out for both teams.
Cincinnati Bengals: Performances of Note
Andy Dalton, QB: +6.8
Breakdown: It’s amazing that this is the same quarterback that went 10-33 for 86 yards the previous week, but what a difference a week makes. A nearly flawless performance as 18 of his 21 targeted passes hit the hands of the receiver. Dalton was effective even when pressured and blitzed with a passer rating of 140+ against both.
Signature Play: They don’t get much prettier than Dalton’s throw at with 13:49 left in the fourth quarter. On a 3rd-and-18 ge got man-to-man on the outside with A.J. Green matched up with Brian Dixon. Green didn’t create a ton of space on the ‘go’ route, but Dalton didn’t need it as he place it in stride for a 38-yard gain.
Carlos Dunlap, DE: +6.6
Breakdown: A pass rushing performance we haven’t seen from Dunlap in quite some time. Four hits, three hurries and a batted pass made for Dunlap’s best game of the season. He had his way with Bryce Harris, routinely overpowering the backup right tackle and turning the corner to get to the quarterback.
Signature Stat: Accounted for seven of the Bengals’ 15 total pressures.
Emmanuel Lamur, OLB: +3.8
Breakdown: One of the keys to thwarting New Orleans’ passing attack is to eliminate the effectiveness of the check-down game. All day Lamur made sure that 3-yard dump offs didn’t turn into chain-moving first downs and his performance was invaluable. He had four stops in coverage to go along with two against the run.
Signature Play: Not necessarily a play that stood out above the rest, but an example of what Lamur did repeatedly Sunday. With 11:18 left in the third quarter the Saints ran a two-man route off play action with Brees looking deep. Once he saw nothing was open he dumped off to Mark Ingram, but Lamur was in his face at the catch point and tackled him for a short gain.
New Orleans Saints: Performances of Note
Curtis Lofton, LB: +1.5
Breakdown: Lofton flashed repeatedly good and bad. It was as aggressive a linebacking performance against the run as you’ll see with Lofton continually playing on the Bengals’ side of the line of scrimmage. This made for a lot of stops in the running game, but also meant that Jeremy Hill would be immediately into the secondary when gap control inevitably faltered elsewhere.
Signature Play: With 9:19 left in the third quarter, Lofton recognized the Bengals running counter-right and attacked the gap left by the pulling guard. Andre Whitworth wasn’t able to react in time as Lofton knifed inside for a tackle for no gain.
Drew Brees, QB: +2.7
Breakdown: It’s amazing to think as precise as Brees threw the ball that the Saints could only muster 10 points on the day. The Saints quarterback was accurate on a ridiculous 34 of his 39 targets, but all that led to just 255 yards. Some of this is on Brees for not taking more shots downfield, but the completely ineffective rushing attack and lack of production after the catch from wide receivers (averaged 2.8 YAC) didn’t help either.
Signature Stat: Brees had no success downfield off play action. He went 6-7 for a measly 27 yards after play action.
Bryce Harris, RT: -3.0
Breakdown: It was quite the swing for the Saints’ offense going from one of the best pass blocking right tackles in the NFL in Zach Strief to a replacement level player in Bryce Harris. Harris couldn’t match up with Carlos Dunlap one-on-one and it showed repeatedly. Harris allowed three pressures and a hit to go along with an ill-timed holding penalty that negated a long scramble by Brees in the fourth quarter.
Signature Play: On a crucial third down with 7:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, Harris got his hands swatted away by Dunlap and then failed to get enough depth push him past. Dunlap hit Brees as he was throwing and the pass fell incomplete.
PFF Game Ball
When the Bengals gave him a $100m contract, this was exactly the kind of game they envision from Andy Dalton. He wasn’t tasked with winning the game with his arm, but he made almost every play asked of him and gets this game ball.
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