Another year of experience, another opportunity at a win against the Houston Texans. The 2012 Cincinnati Bengals have shown ferocity on defense and young Andy Dalton has improved his ball control but can they put everything together for 60 minutes to get their first playoff win since 1990?
Reasons for optimism:
The defense. Since defeating the Giants in game 9, the Bengals have given up just an average of 282 yards per game. They have given up an average of only 12.8 points per game. During the first 8 games of the season, the defense gave up an average of 359 yards and we’re gashed for an average of 27.3 points. Houston has scored under 17 points in 3 of their last 4 games and have also lost 3 of their last 4 games. If Cincinnati can continue to pressure the Quarterback and limit Arian Foster in the running game, the W could go to the Bengals….
That’s if the offense can get rolling. The offense only has 3 touchdowns through the air in the past 4 games. Andy Dalton didn’t play a full game against the Ravens Sunday, however, the previous three have been a bit of an offensive struggle. Turnovers and lack of execution have stalled drives along with a porous offensive line giving up 19 sacks in the last 4 contests.
What the Bengals are saying:
“Momentum finished yesterday. It’s what you do now that counts. We get no points for what we did at the end of the season. We earned a spot to go into this and we’re one of 12 teams now. We have to go back and get ready to go. We’ve got to play better than we played and we have to have the sense of urgency, the sense to finish, the resiliency that we’ve had throughout the second half of the year. That’s the only thing we have. We have some experience, but you get no points for momentum, nor are we going to subtract any from the Texans. They played the end of their season the way that they felt was best for them. They earned the right to do that by what they had done earlier in the year.”
“I don’t want to make this week about how we’re so much a different team than last year, whatever. Let’s just play. Let’s not really talk. For me, that’s how I’m approaching this game. It wasn’t nice. I’m not trying to re-live it until you just brought it up. It’s one of those things; I didn’t have my best day. That’s 360 and some days ago.”
What the Texans are saying:
(on Cincinnati’s defense) “No doubt. I think it will be the biggest challenge we’ve faced in the last four weeks. They’re a lot different this year. First off, they have the same coordinator. (Mike Zimmer) Zim does a great job and Marv (Marvin Lewis) has been a defensive guy his whole career. But there are some things going on with them up front defensively. They’ve been exceptional. At linebacker they’ve been better. They’ve got a young player in there who’s playing really well. Secondary is really totally different than what we faced last year, both times we played them. They’re playing well, what are they ranked, fifth or sixth in defense in the league with 50-plus sacks? It’ll be all we can handle and obviously we have to play a lot better. So it’s going to be a tough, tough assignment, but we have to do a much better job than we’ve been doing.”