- Coley Harvey, ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter
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1. Where were the sacks? After signing two defensive linemen to extensions and franchising another in the offseason, the Bengals' front office entered the season hopeful the line would take another step toward asserting itself as one of the league's more dominant units. On paper, the group didn't appear to do its job Sunday. Anchored by newly re-signed $55 million tackle Geno Atkins, the defensive line didn't record a single sack on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. With a Bears offensive line that featured a pair of rookies and two other newcomers, the matchup seemed to bode well for the Bengals. Despite the fact they didn't record a sack, the Bengals' D-linemen still pressured Cutler, who somehow avoided getting touched. Cutler was one of the NFL's worst quarterbacks last season when teams rushed more than five players at him. Against the Bengals, he completed 80 percent of his passes for 94 yards and a touchdown in similar situations.
2. Offense will be fine. Speaking of sacks, where were the ones on Bengals QB Andy Dalton? Aside from one fourth-quarter sack on a delayed stunt past left guard Clint Boling, Cincinnati's offensive line turned in a rather admirable effort protecting its starting signal-caller. With an upright Dalton, the Bengals amassed more than 300 yards of total offense, had a pair of touchdown passes, and got into a rhythm that at one point made the overall offense appear unstoppable. On one third-quarter drive, the Bengals converted three straight third downs. It ended with BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 5-yard touchdown run. Yes, the Bengals had three turnovers, but those particular miscues are fixable.
3. Security lessons. Of the Bengals' three turnovers, two resulted from receivers not immediately securing the ball. Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green, who had nine catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns, bobbled away a pass that was perfectly thrown through multiple defenders. When the ball squirted free, Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman caught it for his second interception. His first came on the Bengals' second play of the afternoon, when he jumped a route that Green didn't completely sit down on. The final turnover was the product of a Mohamed Sanu fumble. Just after catching a 10-yard pass for a would-be first down, Sanu lost the handle on the ball when the Bears' Tim Jennings dislodged it with a hard hit to Sanu's hands. Immediately after that play, Cincinnati's momentum stalled. The Bears responded with their go-ahead touchdown.
4. Manage the clock. Cincinnati's late-game clock management left much to be desired. On one fourth-quarter Chicago drive alone, the Bengals used their last two timeouts because of defensive personnel issues. Coming with 8:06 left in the game, those timeouts proved critical. Cincinnati couldn't stop the clock in the final minute when it still had a chance to rally. Like the turnovers, this issue is a fixable one. It primarily was the product of having less than two weeks to tweak linebacker packages after Emmanuel Lamur went down with a season-ending injury in the final preseason game.
An examination of four hot issues from the Cincinnati Bengals' 24-21 loss to the Chicago Bears:1. Where were the sacks? After signing two defensive linemen to extensions and franchising another in the offseason, the Bengals' front office entered the season hopeful the line would take another step toward asserting itself as one of the league's more dominant units.