Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has talked a lot about great players making great plays at opportune moments for his team.
But, sometimes he has asked, and not received.
The coach was asked if Sunday's 28-24 road win over the Ravens was an example of great Bengals players playing great, and he didn't hesitate to answer.
“Yes, I thought with the two touchdown drives when we were behind, what the offensive players did, was great," Lewis said. "We stepped up the protection, the quarterback improvised, and Gio (Giovani Bernard) made a great run after a catch. A lot of those were big plays.”
The tackling at times on Sunday by the Bengals wasn't decisive, the coach said, leading to some long gains by the player whom the defense knew the most about - receiver Steve Smith, a man who is older than anybody on the Bengals' roster.
Lewis said it boils down to having better technique as much as just being plain-old schooled.
“Steve Smith is a good, strong runner; we know that. We have to stay in the right leverages, and we cant miss and leave our hips behind," the coach said. "We have to be technically sound when we tackle. We got him on the ground a bunch, but the couple of times we didn’t, he made explosive, important third-down plays.”
The coach said he's still okay with Smith retiring following this season after he torched them for nearly 200 total yards.
“Yes," Lewis said with a laugh.
The two teams meet again in Cincinnati in the regular-season finale Jan. 3 with potentially much more on the line, so the ageless Smith still may not be done with the Bengals.
The coach was not as light-hearted about other concerns, namely the need for all the passing, which the Bengals want to limit while establishing the run.
The Bengals went to the air on an abundance of plays, after generally being unable to move the ball on the ground for the first time this season. Still, they threw it 32 times and ran it 31. But, they averaged just 2.8 yards per carry.
Running back Jeremy Hill was a non-factor for the second straight game, with 12 carries for 21 yards, good for less than 2 yards per carry (a woeful 1.8 to be exact). The Bengals averaged 12 yards per pass attempt and 19.1 yards per completion, thanks to Dalton.
“I think the way the game went, them falling behind, led a lot to that," Lewis said of the Ravens' influence on game patterns.
The Bengals put their unbeaten status on the line Sunday against the 1-2 Kansas City Chiefs at home at Paul Brown Stadium. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
The Chiefs are 16th in the NFL in rushing defense with regard to per-carry average, at 3.8. They are 14th in the league in yards rushing per game (94.0).
Kansas City is 28th in pass defense (21st overall on defense) while giving up a whopping average yield of 287 passing yards per game, so the Dalton-to-A.J. Green fireworks may continue unabated at least for another week. The Seattle Seahawks, second in pass defense, roll into town the following Sunday.