The 33-7 loss the Cincinnati Bengals suffered against the Chicago Bears on Sunday was one of the worst in the Marvin Lewis era.
It also was likely one of the last.
The six-day stretch that saw the team set a franchise record with 173 penalty yards while blowing a 17-0 lead against rival Pittsburgh on Monday and then fail to put up any semblance of fight Sunday against a lowly Bears team that had lost five in a row should remove any doubt whether Lewis will be back for a 16th season in 2018.
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There are three games remaining, and the Bengals won’t be favored in any of them, which means Lewis’ tenure could end on a five-game skid. Even if it does, it’s hard to imagine another performance being as lackluster as what the Bengals offered Sunday.
Here are the grades in this week’s Report Card:
The Good: Giovani Bernard was the star of the offense while filling in for concussed starter Joe Mixon, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Rookie Brian Hill averaged a respectable 4.0 yards while logging the first two rushes of his career.
The Bad: There isn’t much to critique with only 13 rushes, 10 of which went for at least 3 yards. But in the third quarter when the Bengals were desperate to get something going to stem the Chicago momentum, Bernard had a 1-yarder on the first play of the first drive and a 1-yarder on the second play of the second drive.
Key Play: The 7-yard rush by Bernard on third and 6 was an indicator that offensive coordinator Bill Lazor continues to build confidence in an improving run game.
The Good: Andy Dalton’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell that gave the Bengals a brief lead in the first quarter was a terrific throw, and Bernard stepped up as a receiver as well with six catches for 68 yards, both of which were team highs.
The Bad: Dalton wan an erratic 14 of 29 for 141 yards, including 8 of 19 for 84 yards after the first quarter. A.J. Green dropped two passes and lost a fumble, and the line surrendered two more sacks to bring the season total to 32.
Key Play: The fumble Green lost came at the Chicago 20 early in the fourth quarter, thwarting a chance to make it a two-score game.
The Good: The depleted defense that was without five starters suffered no additional injuries.
The Bad: The Bengals gave up 232 rushing yards, the fifth most in the Marvin Lewis era. The Bears averaged 6.1 yards on 38 carries, and they did even though the Bengals were focused on stopping the run knowing there was a struggling rookie quarterback providing a marginal passing threat.
Key play: One snap after catching a break when Tarik Cohen barely stepped out of bounds on what looked like a 35-yard touchdown run, the Bengals let Jordan Howard roll through the defense for a 21-yard score just four minutes into the game.
The Good: Michael Johnson had two sacks to nearly equal his season total of three, and William Jackson continued his emergence as the top cornerback on the team with solid coverage that included a pass breakup in the end zone.
The Bad: The Bengals let a rookie quarterback who was averaging 154.6 yards per game to throw for 271 and a touchdown with a 112.4 rating as Mitch Trubisky completed a career-high 25 of his 32 attempts.
Key play: With the Bears clinging to a 9-7 lead with 3:30 left before halftime and facing fourth and 3 at the Cincinnati 34, Trubisky hit tight end Adam Shaheen for 16 yards to extend what ended up being a 15-play, 86-yard scoring drive.
The Good: Kevin Huber continued his stellar season by averaging 50.2 yards per punt, with two more downed inside the 20 and no touchbacks. And the coverage units did a solid job against the electric Cohen, limiting him to 19.5 yards on two kick returns and 3.5 yards on a pair of punt returns.
The Bad: Two more penalties, including an illegal block against Ryan Hewitt and on the opening kickoff and another unsportsmanlike penalty against Cody Core on the first punt.
Key Play: Mike Nugent’s missed extra point four minutes into the game gave the Bengals a chance to say at least they led at one point. It lasted a little more than four and a half minutes.
›› ARCHDEACON: ‘Surreal’ feeling for Nugent in return to Cincinnati
The Good: Marvin Lewis won his fourth consecutive challenge.
The Bad: Zero points in the second half for the fourth time this season. Zero touchdowns in the second half for the seventh time.
Key Play: Paul Guenther’s defense gave up 12 plays of at least 10 yards, so take your pick.
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