The battle between two teams trending in different directions got off to an exciting start. Cincinnati is fighting for their playoff lives while St. Louis is just trying build momentum heading into the offseason.
We head into halftime with Cincinnati trailing 3-6 against St. Louis.
Here are five telling stats from the first half that explain the half that was and what the Bengals need to do in order to win this game.
1. 4 Catches 94 Yards
A.J. Green is a beast and Andy Dalton has been targeting him early and often. He made an amazing over the shoulder catch on Cincinnati’s first drive.
The Bengals need to continue throwing to Green in the second half because the Rams secondary is as porous as it gets. Take shots down the field and get ready for a successful second half.
2. 21 Yards Rushing
Cedric Benson has not gotten off to a hot start like Cincinnati would have liked to see. The Bengals have to feature him more in the second half.
If the Bengals are able to get Benson going then they will be able to set up the play-action pass. Furthermore, a heavy diet of Cedric will eat up the clock and maintain a Cincinnati lead.
3. 0:1 Turnover Ratio
Andy Dalton made a terrible mistake by throwing into double coverage and paid the high price by getting picked off. The Bengals are the better team on the field but they can’t afford to turn the ball over.
Turnovers level the playing field and make it so a weaker team can win the game. Luckily the defense was able to stop the Rams from scoring points. To counteract this turnover ratio, Cincinnati must force a fumble or an interception in the second half.
4. 1 Sack
The Bengals need to take advantage of the fact that Kellen Clemens is the starting quarterback for the Rams. They need to get pressure on him and force him to make mistakes.
He has only been in St. Louis for 11 days and therefore is not as knowledgeable about how the offense works. Use his inexperience as a weapon against them by putting consistent pressure on him.
5. 5 Penalties—55 Yards
Cincinnati has been shooting themselves in the foot with these costly penalties. They need to clean up their play in the second half if they want a shot at making the playoffs. Multiple times their penalties came at inopportune times and extended a St. Louis drive or put their offense in difficult down and distance.