From start to finish, that game against the Bengals was an emotional roller-coaster. And, unfortunately, there were more lows than highs in the devastating 38-31 loss. The inconsistencies continue and the frustration is mounting. The secondary was embarrassing, Griffin took far too many big hits, the refs continue to make astoundingly bad errors and, to top it all off, Kyle Shanahan chased the refs down the tunnel and screamed profanities at them after they incorrectly declared the game over. Sure, we’ve all screamed profanities at these refs, but not to their faces and not in front of cameras. We’re also not coaches.
Griffin is so good. Full stop. So, so good. And he will only get better. But he cannot do it all by himself. Griffin needs support from both the offense and the defense, and both let him down yesterday. I also hope we can give him some better protection so that he stops taking so many hits each week. He is tough, but we can’t risk injury or wearing him out. And I really hope Trent Williams is back on the field soon. Jordan Black cannot be trusted to protect our biggest asset.
As we all knew in the off-season, our secondary is terrible. But they are really awful, worse than I’d thought. We can’t stop anyone. They let Dalton run roughshod over our house. Can we please put Doughty back in? DHall and Gomes had the biggest fails this week, missing tackles and blowing assignments. Crawford got beat badly by Hawkins for a Q4 TD and Josh Wilson let too many get by as well. There is certainly a supply and demand imbalance in the league right now when it comes to talented DBs. It seems the talent pool is still trying to adjust to dominance of the passing game in today’s NFL. And our cap hit certainly did not help us in the quest to acquire what talent is available. But we need to do something and soon, because we just cannot keep giving up these big plays week after week.
Our secondary may have let us down, but other members on our D, called upon to replace injured teammates, showed up big. Rob Jackson had an incredible game, starting things off with a goal line INT & TD and following it up with a nice sack on Dalton. Chris Wilson, who shared playing time with Jackson to replace an injured Orakpo, teamed with Kerrigan for a sack and performed well on Special Teams after a miscue last week. Jarvis Jenkins stepped up to fill in for Adam Carriker and helped our D-line hold the Bengals to fewer than 100 yards rushing.
While the offense was slow to get started, we did see a lot of different people contributing to the action when the wheels finally clicked. Fred Davis had his biggest game of the season, becoming Griffin’s top target in Garçon’s absence and racking up 90 yards. He isn’t getting a ton of yards after the catch, but he is moving the chains. Brandon Banks also had a big game, knocking out a 55 yard kick return, spending a lot of time in the backfield helping Griffin and Morris on the option and coming through on a crucial pitch as Griffin got hit. While he still has issues holding onto the ball, his speed is truly impressive. The love affair with Alfred Morris continues, though it was nice to see Royster and Helu provide a little relief throughout the game. Logan Paulsen may have missed one pass, but his blocking skills remain superior and essential given our inconsistent O-line. Hankerson made a big impact in this game and would have made an even bigger one had he not been strip searched by two Bengals DBs across the middle in Q4. We didn’t see much of Santana Moss, though I donned my Moss is Boss shirt for old times sake. Luckily, what we did see from him was a TD. Niles Paul was really only seen on Special Teams this week which was a bit of a disappointment.
After two consecutive weeks of bungles, our Special Teams actually had a pretty decent outing against the Bengals. Niles Paul made a huge play when he downed the ball on the one yard line, backing the Bengals into the end zone for a series that ultimately led to Jackson’s INT and TD. Lorenzo Alexander dealt out some big tackles on returns. The on-sides kick almost went our way. Almost. And, hey, there weren’t any blocked punts.
That is for you, Kyle. Yes, the refs messed up. Chasing them into the tunnel and screaming profanities at them, however, was a touch much. I have not given Kyle any grief yet this season, so I don’t feel bad calling him out on losing his temper. The refs are infuriating, no doubt. But you have to maintain a modicum of composure. I suppose we should be thankful he didn’t pull a Belichick. Papa Shanny also draws some ire this week for his ill-advised challenge that cost us our last time out. I don’t know what replay Shanny was watching, but the punted ball clearly touched the goal line before Butler and Alexander could get to it.
The ref. Oh, the refs. The called imaginary fouls on our defensive throughout the game, nailing Josh Wilson with an unearned pass interference, making up a face mask personal foul on DHall and some bogus holding calls that set up the big Hawkins TD in Q4. Where were the calls when Hankerson was being sandwiched (no extra H) between two Bengals DBs? At least they finally called someone for holding Kerrigan. Oh, yes, and thank you very much for adding an extra five yards on to the spot after levying a 5 yard false start on Fred Davis and a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct on Kyle. Somehow we got pushed to the 51-yard line instead of the 46? Acknowledging the error does not give us that down back. And where was the flag on the Bengals for delay of game when their entire team was on the field?
That was a frustrating loss. It seems every week we advance in one area and regress in another. One step forward and two steps back. Hopefully one week we can get all the adjustments in alignment and actually play as a complete, organized and productive unit. Here’s hoping that week starts this weekend in Tampa.