Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s reaction to Monday night’s 44-13 loss in Baltimore was a mixture of surprise and anger.
“We didn’t do anything Monday night,” Zimmer said Wednesday afternoon after practice. “We didn’t rush the passer, we didn’t play the run good and we didn’t cover. We didn’t play good in the red zone.
“We gave up a third-and-15, gave up a third-and-nine in the red zone. We dropped balls, interceptions. If we do those it doesn’t matter who we are playing.”
The 44 points were the most allowed by Zimmer’s defense since a 49-31 loss to Buffalo on Nov. 21, 2010, and they were the second most allowed in an opener in franchise history (45-14 loss to Denver in 1991).
Baltimore had a staggering 20 plays go for 10 yards or more as the Ravens racked up 430 yards of total offense, which was more than the Bengals surrendered in any game last year.
“Maybe I overdid it, maybe I got too complicated, I don’t know,” Zimmer said. “Maybe they were just good. We’ve got to give them some credit, too.
“You know, quite honestly, I’d rather get blown out like that than lose 17-16 the last play of the game,” he added. “I don’t want to get ever blown out, but you can forget about it a lot quicker. You can get on to the next thing a lot faster. This isn’t the first time I’ve had my rear end kicked and probably won’t be the last. It comes with the territory.”
The loss was a lot of things, but unprecedented isn’t one of them.
In 2010 the defense struggled in a 38-24 season-opening loss at New England, only to rebound with back-to-back wins against Baltimore and Carolina, allowing 10 and 7 points, respectively.
And while the 2009 season opener wasn’t similar in a beatdown sense, the 12-7 loss to Denver on the final, fluke play was something the Bengals were able to overcome en route to winning the AFC North Division.
Last year five of the 12 teams who went on to make the playoffs were 0-1 after their openers.
“It doesn’t’ exactly say how the season is going to go just because you lose by one point or 50 points in Week 1,” cornerback Leon Hall said. “It doesn’t make or break your season. Now if you keep that going, obviously that’s a big issue.
“Half the teams in the NFL are 0-1,” he added. “We’re just trying not to be part of those teams that are 0-2.”
Despite Monday’s performance, Zimmer said he still believes his defense can be as good or better than last year when it was 7th in the NFL in yards allowed.
“I have faith, which is belief without proof, in these players,” he said. “I watch them every single day in practice. I believe. It hasn’t wavered. We haven’t proved it yet, so we have to go out and prove it.”