The Cincinnati Bengals were on the verge of a full-on collapse as they went into week 11 of the 2013 NFL season with their in-state rivals, the Cleveland Browns on the schedule. With the troubling play of Andy Dalton as of late and the Browns sneaky-good defense, this had the makings of what could’ve been the Bengals’ third consecutive loss.
In the first quarter, it looked very much like Cincinnati might need to sound the panic alarm as Dalton continued to try to force the ball past Joe Haden to A.J. Green. As it tends to play out when you test Haden, the Browns cornerback picked off Dalton twice in the first 15 minutes of play, taking one to the house.
However, the second quarter came around and Dalton looked a little better and calmer as he capitalized off of a Browns turnover and a three-and-out to give the Bengals a 14-13 lead. However, Dalton, who threw for only 93 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, doesn’t deserve credit for this win—that honor belongs to Cincinnati’s defense and special teams.
Not only did they come up with a big interception late in the first quarter that led to a Bengals touchdown, but they also scored on a blocked field punt and forced a fumble that they also took to the end-zone. On the day they finished the game with the blocked punt, the fumble recovery, three interceptions, forcing three turnovers-on-downs and surrendering just 13 points to the shaky Browns’ offense.
As has been the case for most of the season, this Bengals team needs their defense to be a successful NFL team. Dalton and their running game still hasn’t proven to be consistent enough to rely on to win games. The Bengals now sit at 7-4 and have a strong lead in the division, but their defense is going to have to continue to step up if they want to maintain that lead and possibly make some noise in the postseason.