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Six Takeaways From the Bengals' Overtime Loss to the Packers

Cincinnati fell to 3-2 on the season following Sunday's loss to Green Bay

The Packers and Bengals fought hard for 60 minutes trading blow for blow and by the end of it, they were still tied. Going into overtime each team had multiple chances to win the game, but it was Mason Crosby and the Green Bay Packers that came out victorious

There was plenty to take away from this game, so let’s dive into it.

Evan McPherson is Human

There were wind issues, but McPherson still missed two kicks to win the game. He struck the ball well and it looked good off his foot, but each one just barely missed going through the uprights. McPherson had only missed one kick since the preseason started prior to this game. He's also made two game-winning field goals this season. 

McPherson seemed to already be one of the best kickers in the league with his leg strength and ability to hit clutch kicks. This game serves as a reminder that he has room to improve. He did not face this type of weather in Florida and I am sure over time that he will become better in windy and other bad weather conditions.

Impressive Secondary

Throughout the game, one of the main positives to me was the grit of the Bengals defensive backs. Each one is stout against the run and flies to the football on shallow passes. Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton stopped multiple screens, flats, and smokes with force. Vonn Bell pounded AJ Dillon as he crossed the end zone and Jessie Bates gave a wide receiver a hit he will always remember. This works very well to stop runs, screens, and passes into the short areas of the field. The Bengals are fighting the notion that cornerbacks do not tackle.

Lou Anarumo Continues to Impress

Staying on the defensive side of the ball, let’s talk about Lou Anarumo’s defense. The Packers got their yards but were held to a total of 22 points in regulation. That is a testament to Anarumo’s defense. Everything that he seemed to struggle with last year is gone. His pressure designs are working better, his situational play calling hasn't been an issue, disguises are working, and the players are playing hard for him. Even the 25 points that the Packers ended up with was still their second-lowest total this year. 

The Bengals' defense does not have very many nationally recognizable “stars,” but they are currently punching above their weight class. They have given the offense the ball back plenty and have never let a game get out of reach. Once the offense starts clicking in the same fashion this team could be really dangerous.

Zac Attack: Where's the Offense?

With the improved defense, there was hope that the offense could be the type of offense to put up 25-30 points per game this season. They are getting the ball back to have chances, but each game ends up just slightly under expectations. The offense is currently averaging about 23 points per game which is fine, but not the fantastic offense some were expecting. There is not one single issue that stands out above everything else either. Zac Taylor has not been as aggressive as he was last year. He's attempted more long field goals and punts from midfield. This limits the offense’s chances of scoring a touchdown on those drives. It also seems like the scripted “first 15” plays aren't effective, which is also on Taylor. The Bengals have not scored on an opening drive yet this season. These drives are supposed to be perfectly built to get the offense going, but through five games they have not accomplished that goal a single time.

Related: Zac Taylor's Lack of Aggressiveness Costs Bengals

Joe Burrow Isn't Superman

To go with Taylor having issues so far this season, Joe Burrow wasn't perfect against the Packers. Outside of an improvised 70-yard touchdown to Ja'Marr Chase, Burrow was not that good in this game against a beat-up secondary. Some of that falls squarely on the offensive line who had another poor performance (3 sacks and 8 QB hits according to Pro Football Reference), but some of it falls on Burrow. 

He threw two first down interceptions. He underthrew a ball intended for Auden Tate deep down the sideline in the third quarter that was intercepted. This killed the opening drive of the second half. 

Then, after winning the toss in overtime, Burrow tossed another interception on first down. This one came on one of the Bengals’ favorite concepts Hoss Y Juke which is essentially letting the slot receiver cook whoever is covering him in any direction. The issue comes when the receiver and quarterback are not on the same page which led to the interception. Still, Burrow cannot throw that pass expecting the receiver to cut if the receiver is sitting and showing his eyes. That is the coaching point for the receiver to sit on that play. He’s still a young quarterback that will be forced to learn some tough lessons from Sunday's game.

Chase is Special

This last takeaway is something that should give fans hope for the next few years. Chase looks like a special player out there. He finished with six catches for 159 yards and one touchdown. That is a fantastic stat line for a rookie wide receiver. He did not have all that many easy catches for big yards either. The bulk of his production came off of the 70-yard touchdown where he cut from one side of the field all the way across to the other before making the catch.

He also had a fantastic display of body control from him along the sideline to turn, catch, and get his feet down. Lastly there was a catch that was knocked into the air at first, but then Chase had the concentration to catch it on the way down. The entire game was full of Chase doing things that were extraordinary. He already is shaping up to be one of the better wide receivers in the National Football League.

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