CINCINNATI – For a few moments, there was a glimmer of hope.
Andy Dalton rallied the Cincinnati Bengals with two touchdown passes in less than two minutes in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 23-23 Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at the Jungle.
But with two ticks left on the clock, Arizona kicker Zane Gonzalez booted a 31-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a 26-23 win.
The victory was the first of the season for Arizona, and the first for head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Cincinnati, under rookie head coach Zac Taylor, dropped to 0-5, its worst start since 2008.
From my view in the media box, there does not appear to be any sense of urgency from Bengal leaders on the field. Too many penalties and missed opportunities halted drives and took away momentum.
Instead, desperation has peaked up from underneath the benches. They are winless and a tough schedule ahead.
“We didn’t do enough to get it done,” Taylor said. “They just made the plays there in that last drive to put them in position to kick that field goal to win the game.”
For the first 46 minutes, the Bengals struggled to move the ball. After the second quarter, they had managed to gain only 90 total yards while Arizona posted 272.
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton completed four of 10 passes in the first half for 22 yards. His targets keep going down. AJ Green is still out with an ankle injury and Alex Erickson was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the first half.
But when the game was over, Dalton rallied and had 27 completions out of 38 tries for 262 yards and two touchdowns.
Tyler Boyd, who caught the second Dalton touchdown pass in the fourth quarter rally for a 42-yard score, was frustrated in the locker room.
“I hate losing,” he said after the game. “Everyone on this team hates to lose. We have to start fast because the offense can be unstoppable.”
Before it can be described as unstoppable, the offense must first get on track, fire up the engines and move the ball. So far, the train has yet to leave the station.
“I want so badly to succeed,” Taylor added. “The fans who came out, we love the support. We’ve got to put some wins in the win column. I get it. We haven’t given it to them yet.”
Something needs to give. Cincinnati is on a bubble that might burst soon.
They have lost three games by a total of eight points (Seattle 21-20, Buffalo 21-17 and Arizona 26-23.)
Last week, they were blown out in Pittsburgh 27-3 on Monday Night Football and were handled by San Francisco 41-17 in week two.
“We’ve been close,” Dalton said. “Guys in this locker room are sticking together. We are going to put our head down and go to work and get out of this.”
The Bengals travel to Baltimore (3-2) next week to battle the Ravens, who defeated the Steelers 26-23 Sunday.
“We understand the position we are in, obviously,” Dalton added. “We have to focus on week-to-week and try to get a win this week. We’ve got to do it on the road against Baltimore.”
Unstoppable? I think they need to shovel on a little more coal.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.
His latest book, First Down Devotions: Inspirations from NFL’s Best, can be purchased from New Hope Publishers and on Amazon.
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