November 4, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Terence Newman (23) intercepts a pass intended for Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) at Paul Brown Stadium. Denver won the game 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

A Hard Fought Loss Shining More Light on Dalton’s Growing Pains

Cincinnati, at a point in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos, looked poised and ready to right all of the wrongs of the season. The whole team was clicking on all cylinders as they dug themselves out of a 17-3 deficit to lead Denver by 3 in the fourth quarter. From all aspects, it looked like the team was coming together.

Just like the last three games had panned out for the Bengals, though, the team faltered. They watched on as Peyton Manning put up two more touchdowns to seal their ill-fate in front of a sold-out home crowd. Once again, the fans were left heartbroken and disappointed after feeling such a tremendous amount of joy just a few moments earlier.

There are a few things that could have turned this game in a different direction, but instead took them down a path that led to another Cincinnati loss. Aside from the sloppy play that ended up in 83 yards of penalties and questionable coaching decisions in the fourth quarter, the team had a few other obvious downfalls.

First of all, there is never a good reason for an opposing team’s kick returner to return a kickoff for 105 yards for a touchdown like Trindon Holliday did on the Bengals. The special teams unit, which has done fairly well this season, could not cut him off or catch up to him. Guys were simply not in position to make the stop. Holliday ran through the Bengal’s defenders completely untouched. The performance of special teams on that particular play was inexcusable.

The second deficiency was the ground game. Yet again Bengals fans find themselves fixated on the inefficiency of the running game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the team’s feature back, only racked up 56 yards on 17 carries. That is an average of just 3.3 yards per carry. Every week, Cincinnati looks on hoping this will be the week that The Law Firm finally breaks out. Every week, the fans are disappointed. I, myself, am a fan of BJGE. Why he is faltering with the Bengals is beyond me. I have thought of every excuse, but he has been with the team long enough that he shouldn’t still be struggling like this. Behind every excuse, there is truth. The truth is the Bengals should have made a move before the trade deadline for a running back.

The third reason for this loss lies in Andy Dalton. In Dalton’s four years at TCU, he managed to throw a total of 71 touchdowns and only 30 interceptions. The interception number is only that high due to his freshman season where he threw 11. Aside from that year, all of his other interception numbers were under 8 for the season.

As a rookie in the NFL, the quarterback managed a season total of only 13 interceptions and 20 touchdowns. Now in his second season, he has thrown only 14 touchdowns and a whopping 11 interceptions in only eight games. His turnovers through the air have been a progressing issue all season long.

With the way the games have ended this season, it could be said that Dalton’s turnovers tell the story of the point differentials between the Bengals and their opponents in any given game. They are the difference between a Bengals win and a Bengals loss. Before the Broncos came to town last Sunday, of the Bengals 187 points allowed, 46 came from the quarterback’s interceptions.

After Manning regained the lead in the fourth quarter, Andy Dalton came out and started driving his team down the field. All he needed to do to take the lead was go down the field with his team and score a touchdown. Instead, in a game that seemed like he might make it through unscathed, he threw an interception with only 8:38 left on the clock.

It wasn’t just an interception, though. Manning threw two interceptions during the game. So, no, it wasn’t just an interception. It was an interception that led to another Denver touchdown that eventually put the game out of reach for Cincinnati. Therefore, it could be said that this game, like the other losses before it, was a direct cause of a Dalton turnover.

Dalton is tied for third in the NFL for the most interceptions with Matt Cassel at 11. He has only thrown fewer interceptions than Brandon Weeden at 12 and Tony Romo at 13. This is not a group that any quarterback wants to be mentioned with right now and Andy is better than these guys. He proved that last year.

How do Cincinnati and the second year quarterback fix this issue before it leaks over into another season? Hopefully, the coaching staff has an answer. It is becoming obvious that this issue cannot keep being covered up with a smile and a pat on the back.

The Bengals did play better this past week and there were also a lot of high points in the game. The defense stepped up. Terence Newman came away with two Peyton Manning interceptions. A.J. Green looked good picking up 99 yards and scoring a touchdown and Mohamed Sanu looked like a promising addition to the receiving corp. The orange and black clicked better together than in their previous three losses. All hope is not lost Cincinnati. But if improvements aren’t made to the key spots on offense, the past is bound to keep repeating itself.

Tags: A.J. Green Andy Dalton Bengals BenJarvus Green-Ellis Brandon Weeden Broncos Cincinnati Denver Marvin Lewis Matt Cassel Mohamed Sanu NFL Peyton Manning Tony Romo Trindon Holliday

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