Inconsistent Bengals will try to work out offensive issues and get healthy during the bye week

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CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals get an extra week to figure out why their offense has been so confoundingly inconsistent.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow throws in the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Cincinnati, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow throws in the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Cincinnati, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. [Darron Cummings | AP]
The bye week is arriving at a good time for the Bengals, who managed to hold off Seattle 17-13 on Sunday — mostly because of a superlative effort by the defense late in the game. They’ve strung together two wins for the first time this season and improved to 3-3 with the week off ahead.

But there are problems to address. Among them is an offense struggling to produce for an entire game.

On Sunday, quarterback Joe Burrow led touchdown drives on the first two possessions. After that: six punts, an interception and a field goal.

“Our defense stepped up big in the second half,” Burrow said. “The offense was really good in the first half, and we were horrible in the second half. We’ve just got to be able to put together a complete game.

“Not where we want to be,” he said. “We’ve had moments, but we just got to put it all together. We’ll evaluate this week and go from there.”

What’s working for the Bengals

Seattle had prime chances to score a go-ahead touchdown and were shut down by the Cincinnati defense.

The unit intercepted Geno Smith twice. The defense twice stopped the Seahawks on fourth down from inside the Cincinnati 10 in the last 2:08 of the game.

The Bengals halted Seattle on fourth-and-8 from the Bengals 9 when Smith was hit by B.J. Hill and threw incomplete with 35 seconds left.

On the Seahawks’ previous drive, Smith was sacked by defensive end Sam Hubbard on fourth-and-goal at the Bengals 6 to turn the ball back over to Cincinnati.

“We know there are going to be times when we’re not playing our best and the offense is going to pick us up,” Hubbard said. “And that’s the beauty of being on a good team with good players. We have good people who want to play for each other.”

What needs help

The Bengals remain mostly a one-dimensional team offensively. The featured back, Joe Mixon, hasn’t been able to break through for chunk plays. He carried 12 times for just 38 yards on Sunday, an average of 3.2 yards per carry. His longest gain was 5 yards. He’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry on the season.

Stock up

Cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, on his 24th birthday, intercepted Smith once and was credited with defending three passes, including knocking away a throw intended for Tyler Lockett on third-and-goal at the Cincinnati 5 in the third quarter, causing Seattle to settle for a field goal. Taylor-Britt also had seven solo tackles.

Stock down

Receiver Tee Higgins was listed as questionable for much of last week because of a rib injury after missing the previous game. He played Sunday but logged just two receptions for 20 yards. Through five games he’s got 14 catches for 149 yards, with a long of 20 yards.


Tackle Orlando Brown Jr. didn’t play in the fourth quarter Sunday because of a groin injury.

Key numbers

3 for 11 — Cincinnati’s third down efficiency against Seattle (27.3%), slightly worse than its season average of 33%, which is among the worst in the NFL.

Next steps for the Bengals

Get everybody healthy and try to reset during the week off because the going will be tough. The Bengals will come out of the bye and play at San Francisco on Oct. 29 before hosting Buffalo and Houston.

“We’re going to take a good look at ourselves this week, get some rest and get ready to go to San Francisco,” center Ted Karras said. “It’s going to be a big one.”


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