Both teams were fighting to win their first game. Bengal pass protection was virtually non-existant as was its red zone offense. Cardinals (with red zone difficulties of their own) were trying to determine their identity on both sides of the ball.
Game-Ending FG Beats Bengals
The Bottom Line:
Both teams were finding it difficult to executie on a consistent basis; struggling to score TDs in the red zone. After the Cards went 3 & out on its first possession, the Bengals came back with a relentless ground attack that, play after play, ripped off gains of +10, +12 and more yards, leading some of us to wonder if and when they'd run us right out of the stadium and into the Ohio River. But suddently - as though Joseph turned on a switch - he held Cincy to a 23-yard FG and shut down the Cincy ground attack for the rest of the contest,
Cards - on Kyler Murray heroics aided and abetted by runs and receptions by David Johnson and Chase Edmonds and a "spread it around" passing attack - built a two-TD lead halfway thru the 4Q, but were unable to prevent Bengs from coming back from down-14 to tie the score. Cards iced the game when Zane Gonzalez kicked a 31-yard FG at the final whistle.
FG - Bullock - 23 yds - Cincy 3 - Cards 0
TD - Murray Run) - 6 yards - Cards 7 - Cincy 3
1st Quarter Score: Cards 7 - Cincy 3
FG - Gonzalez 23 yards - Cards 10 - Cincy 3
FG - Bullock - 48 Yds - Cards 10 - Cincy 6
FG - Gonzalez 20 yards - Cards 13 - Cincy 6
Halftme Score: Cards 13 - Cincy 6
FG - Bullock - 23 yards - Cards 13 - Cincy 9
- Third Quarter Score: Cards 13 - Cincy 9
FG - Gonzalez - 22 yards - Cards 16 - Cincy 9
TD - Edmonds - 37 yard run - Cards 23 - Cincy 9
TD- Tate - 2 yards (pass from Dalton) Cards 23 - Cincy 16
TD - Boyd - 42 yards (pass from Dalton) - Cards 23 - Cincy 23
FG - Gonzalez - 31 yards - Cards 26 - Cincy 23
Final Score: Cards 26 - Cincy 23
Notable Game Stats.
First Downs: Cards 26 - Cincy 21
Total Net Yards : Cards 514 - Cincy 370
Rushes /Yds: Cards 38 for 266 - Cincy 23 for 108
Passing: Murray 20 for 32...0 Int...253 yds
................Dalton 27 for 38...0 Int...262
Sacked: Cards 1 for minus-5 yds - Cincy 1 for 0 yds
Rushing: Murray 10 carries for 93 yds...D Johnson 17 carries for 91 yds
................ Carson 19 carries for 93 yds.
Receiving: Fitz 6 for 58...D Johnson...K Johnson 3 for 22...Edmonds 3 for 18
................:.Boyd 10 for 123...Willis 4 for 38
Penalties - Cards 12 for 96...Cincy 7 for 60
Missed FGs - Cards 1...Cincy 0
Possession - Cards 31:03...Cincy 28:57
The "Bright Side"
266 running yards .
- Murray was "interception free."
- Murray sacked only once
After getting blacktopped on the first Cincy possession, V Joseph said to "make adjustments" that stopped Cincy's ground game.
The Dark Side
12 penalties (killed drives)
- Cards couldn't protect a 14-pt lead with 7:13 left in the 4Q.
DBs couldn't shut down "hot" receiver (Boyd: 10 catches for 123 yds)
Inabiity to pass for TDs in red zone
Gonzalez still misses an occasional FG try.
Dalton sacked only once
Someone had to win this one - fortunately it was us.
But seriously, folks - the Cards outscored the Bengals in several categories (including 266 ground yards vs. 108) but consistently "shot themselves in the foot" and undermined their own efforts with 12 penalties (vs. 7 for the Bengals)
Not being able to protect a 14-pt lead (via a shutdown defense) or sustained offensive attack is not the hallmark of a winning football team.
It appears that the answer to the question - "Is the problem due to 'coaching' or is it due to a fall-off in talent" is "probably both" but continued good coaching can make a big difference (Note - we don't know what Vance Joseph's "adjustments" precisely were after that first Bengal ground drive, but whatever it was....it "worked").