ReFo: Bengals @ Chiefs, Week 11
Coupled with losses for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts, the Cincinnati Bengals win on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday has vaulted them right back into the playoff race in the AFC as we head into the business end of the season.
For the Chiefs it was typical of the performance that has blighted their season and, with seemingly no hope of improvement this season, you can’t blame the fans who headed for the exits by the end of the fourth quarter.
It was a game that was as good as over by halftime, thanks to gutsy decisions, a fake punt and a go-for-it on fourth down, by the Bengals coaching staff, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of talking points for both teams. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the key performances from Sunday.
Cincinnati – Three Performances of Note
The Atkins Diet
Remember when everyone wondered who the best defensive tackle from the 2010 draft class would be, with both Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy going in the top three picks? Well, as good as McCoy has been this season, the answer to that question is Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins, taken 120th overall that same draft. Atkins was at his dominant best on Sunday, including a performance in the first quarter that was about as dominant as we’ve ever seen. Against the run he had a Run Stop Percentage of 18.8%, with three of his four tackles resulting in defensive stops and coming on just 16 plays against the run. As a pass rusher he added a batted pass and three total pressures, however what made Atkins’ (+8.9) performance so special, was just how much carnage he created at the end of the first quarter. First forcing a fumble as he hit quarterback Matt Cassel as he threw on 2nd-and-6 with 2:23 left in the quarter, he followed that up shortly after with a forced fumble on Chiefs running back Peyton Hillis on 2nd-and-4. We’ve highlighted Atkins plenty before but he just continues to impress us more and more with each passing performance.
Running At Will
Even without the brilliantly called fake punt early in the game, the Bengals were still able to run the ball with relative ease all game. Averaging 4.0 yards per carry, BenJarvus Green-Ellis was about as elusive as ever with just one missed tackle forced all game but showed some nice cuts and bursts between his blockers. Both Orson Charles and Jermaine Gresham performed well as blockers from their tight end positions, offsetting the poor play of offensive lineman Dennis Roland on his nine snaps as an extra blocker. The Bengals best run blocker of the day however, was former first round draft pick Andre Smith (+2.1 Run Blocking). Smith didn’t allow much joy for Tyson Jackson and Shaun Smith on the left side of the Chiefs defensive line.
While Green-Ellis and the running game performed well, the star of the show on offense was once again wide receiver A.J. Green (+2.0). Continuing his streak of scoring a touchdown in every game since Week 2 this season, Green averaged 15.2 yards per catch with an average of 5.3 yards after the catch. He’ll be disappointed with his dropped pass on 2nd-and-6 with 12:41 left in the game, but he did bounce back just three plays later with his longest gain of the game. Beating press coverage from cornerback Brandon Flowers on 2nd-and-10 with 11:09 remaining, he slowed up to make the catch inside the Chiefs 15 yards line as the Bengals drove for their final score of the game. Had quarterback Andy Dalton led him a little more, Green may have had his second touchdown of the game but it was an impressive play all the same.
Kansas City – Three Performances of Note
The Easy Excuse
Week after week as the Chiefs continue to struggle, the easy option seems to be to blame the quarterback. Sunday was no different with Matt Cassel being benched in favor of Brady Quinn at halftime. But was his performance really that bad? And is there any reason to think that Quinn can give the offense the spark it needs? Well, no and no would be the answers. Cassel (-0.8) is by no means anything close to an elite quarterback, however he did lead the Chiefs on two scoring drives including one with under a minute left in the first half where all four of his aimed passes should have been caught. While his replacement didn’t turn the ball over, the switch to Quinn (+0.1) failed to generate any spark on offense – or lead to any further points on the scoreboard. At this point it’s fair to question that if the Chiefs really want to see what they have on their roster, maybe it’s time that we saw what Ricky Stanzi can do?
As everyone continues to, rightly, praise Adrian Peterson on his phenomenal comeback from injury, Jamaal Charles deserves a huge amount of credit coming back from a knee injury of his own. Despite teams being able to focus on him, given the Chiefs lack of offensive firepower, Charles was still able to average 5.1 yards per carry on Sunday. His two missed tackles forced on 21 total touches, coupled with an average of 1.53 yards after contact per attempt, gave him an Elusive Rating of just 14.6 but, like Green-Ellis on the opposing sideline, he was able to make the cuts needed and showed enough burst to keep the yards churning. His dropped pass on 1st-and-10 with 35 seconds left in the first half was a rare mistake in this game and, while he’ll be disappointed by that, his overall performance was still the shining light in the Kansas City offense.
First Round Talent on the Defensive Line
Given the fact that they have spent three top-15 draft picks on defensive lineman in the last five years, you would hope that the Chiefs defensive line would be one of the better groups in the league. That hasn’t been the case and, while Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson haven’t been terrible players, they haven’t justified their high draft status. With Dorsey already on injured reserve, it was Jackson (-2.6) who struggled on Sunday, being pushed around in the running game by Smith and Kevin Zeitler on the right side of the Bengals offensive line. This year’s first round draft pick, defensive tackle Dontari Poe, started the game brightly with a batted pass and a hit as a pass rusher to end the Bengals opening drive. He failed to do much more after that however, as he faded as the game went on.
– Nine of Chiefs’ safety Eric Berry’s 13 solo tackles resulted in defensive stops.
– Both teams missed four tackles on defense, with Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga being the only player to miss two or more.
– Bengals’ cornerback Adam Jones continues to impress, allowing just two receptions from 30 plays in coverage.
PFF Game Ball
While Green-Ellis and Green played well for Cincinnati, the obvious choice is Geno Atkins, who continued to prove himself to be the best defensive tackle in football with another dominating performance.