Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals Beat Baltimore Ravens, Lead AFC North

The Cincinnati Bengals are 2-0 with a pair of 34-23 victories this season

Taz and the Moose
October 30, 2018 - 7:00 am

USA Today Images

The Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs six times in seven seasons from 2009-15 – an impressive stretch by any standard. Unfortunately for them, they were one-and-done every time, losing in the Wild Card for one reason or another. 

But after missing the playoffs two years in a row, the Bengals are 2-0 with a pair of 34-23 wins – one over the Colts in Indy and one over the Ravens on prime time, where the team has typically struggled.

What is different about this team this season?

“In Week 1, it was the resiliency,” longtime offensive lineman and Bengals Radio Network color analyst Dave Lapham said on Taz & The Moose. “They took a two-score deficit and turned it into a two-score victory, outscoring the Indianapolis Colts 17-0 in the fourth quarter. And in this game, I think it was getting off to the fast start that they new they had to get off to.”

Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes in the first half, including three to A.J. Green.

“They really jumped on the Baltimore Ravens with both feet,” Lapham said. “Usually these games are decided by one score – eight points or less. In fact, since 2010, 12 of 16 games (between these teams) have been decided by eight points or less going into last night. So it tightened up, and when they had to, they made another defensive play when the game was on the line.”

Indeed, with the Bengals leading 31-23 in the final minutes, Shawn Williams forced a Joe Flacco fumble, which Dre Kirkpatrick recovered. A couple of plays later, Randy Bullock drilled a 40-yard field goal to put the game out of reach.

“They had key takeaways at opportune moments to close things out,” Lapham said.

The Bengals might not have done that in the past. In the past, they might have wilted under pressure. Or committed a late blunder to lose the game.

Not this time.

Why not?

“I know first and foremost they’re young,” Lapham said. “They’ve got 35 guys on their 53-man roster 25 years old or less. They’re really a young, enthusiastic, energetic football team. They did retain Marvin Lewis, but he blew up the coaching staff. He’s got six new coaches, so players are being evaluated by different eyes, guys are bringing new techniques to the table, players are buying what the coaches are selling – they rebooted. It’s a new enthusiasm. They’re really getting after opponents at this point in time.”

The Bengals play each of their next two games on the road against NFC South opponents: at Carolina (1-0) on Sept. 23 and at Atlanta (0-1) on Sept. 30. Kickoff for each game is slated for 1 p.m. ET.