Monday, September 30, 2002

Bengals Report Card

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PASS OFFENSE, F: The Bengals gave up three sacks, and the Buccaneers had Akili Smith on the run all day. Smith threw for 117 yards on 33 attempts, completing just 12 passes. He completely missed Ron Dugans inside the two-minute warning in the first half, and Bucs linebacker Shelton Quarles returned the gift 25 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 halftime lead.

        RUSH OFFENSE, D-minus: Credit Corey Dillon for setting the franchise individual rushing record, mostly on his own effort. The Bengals offensive line was pushed around all day by Tampa Bay's front seven. Smith was supposed to give the Bengals an advantage with his scrambling ability, but he was held to 5 yards on four runs.

        PASS DEFENSE, D-minus: Linebacker Brian Simmons accounted for the Bengals' only points with a reaching catch and 51-yard interception return for a touchdown. Otherwise, the Bengals pass defense gave up touchdown passes of 35, 65 and 22 yards.

        RUSH DEFENSE, C-minus: The Bengals held Tampa Bay to a respectable 101 yards on the ground and started the game by forcing two turnovers and a punt.

        SPECIAL TEAMS, F: The Bengals had 12 men on the field twice on punt plays. In the third quarter, the Bengals had 12 players on the field and still allowed a 36-yard punt return to Karl Williams. In the fourth quarter, the Bengals again had 12 on the field when they were receiving a punt, and the penalty gave the Bucs a first down. Then there was a botched drive that pushed a Neil Rackers field-goal attempt back 10 yards, and his kick fell at least 5 yards short and 20 wide right.

        COACHING, F: Dick LeBeau appears to have lost control of his team. His game management on two red-zone possessions in the second half was indecisive and downright laughable. Bob Bratkowski's offense failed to score a touchdown for the third time in four games. For the second game in a row, special teams coach Al Roberts couldn't even get the right number of players on the field.


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