The Bengals only extended scoring drive that resulted in a touchdown came on their very first possession, when Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green on a 56-yard strike. The Giants secondary looked confused on the play, but other than that blunder, the defense actually turned in a decent effort.
The problem was that the Bengals kept starting with great field position fueled by Giants’ offensive turnovers or giving up big special teams’ plays.
Andrew Hawkins’ 11-yard touchdown catch came right after Pacman Jones’ long punt return. On the other two Bengals’ scoring drives, they went a combined 28 yards, resulting in Jermaine Gresham and Mohamed Sanu touchdowns.
Virtually any offense can advance 20 yards to score a touchdown if given a short field. It’s a tall order for a defense to continuously be given a short field to work with and come up with stops.
Of course, the defense isn’t completely free of blame. They still struggled on third down, allowing the Bengals to convert on 6-of-13 plays. Cincinnati also managed 1-of-2 on fourth down conversions.
The defense continues to give up the big play in the big spot. However, the defense came up with a few stops in crucial points, which gave the offense the ball back needing a score.
The Ahmad Bradshaw fumble in the red zone was the turning point in the game. Had the Giants scored there, it would’ve been a completely different game. Eli Manning’s two interceptions in his own territory certainly didn’t help either.
The Dalton-to-Green combination was deadly in the first half, as the two connected six times for 86 yards. Dalton finished the day 21-for-30 for 199 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. But again, three of those touchdowns were the result of a short field.
Dalton had the luxury of having all day to throw in the pocket, as the Giants’ defensive front did not put much pressure on the second-year quarterback.
The Giants did a good job against the run, allowing only 76 yards on the ground, but it really was an irrelevant stat, since the Bengals kept converting through the air.
It’s tough on a defense when the offense commits four turnovers. It’s even tougher when two of those four occur within the team’s own 20-yard line.
Big Blue will have a much-needed bye next week. Luckily, despite the loss, the Giants will remain two games ahead in the NFC East.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.