The Cincinnati Bengals' track record in goal-to-go situations in 2011 led the list of concerns entering the offseason. They were No. 27 in touchdown efficiency in those situations.
Confronted with first-and-goal from the 1 in the second quarter Thursday, the Bengals again appeared to need help. Granted, free-agent pickup BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was signed specifically to increase production in the red zone, missed the game with a foot injury. Regardless, an incompletion, a rush that lost ground and 9-yard sack weren't what the Bengals had in mind.
That was the second time the Bengals' first-team offense has been in a goal-to-go situation this preseason and both ended in Mike Nugent field goals. The other came on a 15-play, 76-yard drive against the Jets.
The short-yardage failure highlighted the running-game struggles Cincinnati continues to endure.
Running backs have rushed 67 times for 129 yards in three games. That's a 1.93 average per carry.
“We need to do better, whether it is tight ends, offensive line, running backs, we all just need to work together so we can get his right for the regular season,” C Kyle Cook said. “We have one more game and the season is around the corner. We are facing a good team in Baltimore on a Monday night, you got to take a hard look at the thing and really diagnose it.”
Containing the quarterback: The Bengals' defense entered Thursday's 27-13 loss to Green Bay concerned about Aaron Rodgers' arm. They left wondering why they couldn't stop his legs.
For the third time in three games, the Bengals' defense allowed a QB to give them fits running the ball. In the first game, Jets backup QB Tim Tebow ran four times for 34 yards and last week against Atlanta, backup Dominique Davis ran twice for 21 yards.
Rodgers escalated QB containment from a concern to a problem. Twice when coverage shut down the passing option, Rodgers broke containment for rushing touchdowns of 12 and 5 yards. He finished with six rushes for 52 yards.
Opposing QBa rushed 15 times for 118 yards -- 7.9 yards per scramble. And that won't cut it for Marvin Lewis.
“We're doing a good job in coverage and I like that, but we are not doing a good enough job keeping the quarterback hemmed in and that's three weeks in a row,” Lewis said. “That's something we have to do a better job of. We are going to have to be able to handle that when it comes to the regular season, no question about it. Some of the quarterback movement stuff we have to do a better job of in recognition.
Dalton drops off: Andy Dalton suffered his worst passing performance of the preseason, going 5 of 17 for 40 yards.
More than being chased around by Packers' pressure, he missed two potential big plays. The first was an overthrow to Armon Binns in the end zone. Binns had Green Bay CB Jarrett Bush beat by a step but the ball fell a foot out of reach.
The second shot came on an overthrown deep ball down the sideline to A.J. Green streaking alone as the DB fell down 10 yards behind him.
Dalton is 17 of 40 (42.5 percent) in the preseason.
"We didn't play very well tonight," Dalton said. "We didn't get anything going. We had too many three-and-outs. We weren't getting into it. It's unfortunate to see, but we're close. We missed on a couple of things, but this will be good film to learn from. I don't think this game defines how we're going to be during the year. It's a preseason game."
Miles pushing Mays: Taylor Mays may be listed as the starting safety, but he's feeling the heat from third-year special teams ace Jeromy Miles.
After getting six tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in Atlanta last week, Miles made an impact again against Green Bay -- this time coming with the first-team. Miles broke up two Aaron Rodgers passes on a drive toward the end of the first half, the last of which was a fourth-and-3 throw to Greg Jennings one-on-one down the field.
Nothing breeds confidence like shutting down one of the top duos in the NFL on fourth down.
Miles found himself in perfect position and came down with the breakup.
“It's incredible, you hate to toot your own horn and all that stuff, but obviously it's a nice play,” Miles said. “I just try not to focus on one play, I try to keep making plays.”
Lawson nicked: The Bengals' string of consecutive preseason games losing a starter stretched to three for three. LB Manny Lawson left the game with a groin injury in the first half and didn't return.
The starting OLB said after the game he was fine and staying out of the game was precautionary. He doesn't expect to miss much, if any, time.