Jeremy Hill burst out the gate Sunday night in the Bengals' nationally televised game against the Cardinals with an eight-yard carry on Cincinnati's second play from scrimmage.
He added two yards on the next carry for a Bengals first down, giving them the football first-and-10 in Cardinals territory at the Arizona 47 yard line.
Quarterback Andy Dalton threw incomplete, bringing up second-and-10. Hill, averaging a healthy 5.0 yards per carry to start the game, followed with a tote off right tackle out of the shotgun for two yards, and was tackled by former Bengal Frostee Rucker.
Then Hill showed the entire country why his game is off in 2015 after being the NFL's most productive running back over the second half of last year en route to a 1,100-yard rookie season: He was penalized 15 yards for taunting after the two-yard run. It was enforced at the Arizona 45.
In came Giovani Bernard. He has filled the void in the absence of solid production from Hill, who entered Sunday averaging 3.2 yards per carry this season on 111 rushes for 359 yards with two fumbles (he averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season on 222 rushes for 1,124 yards). Bernard carried up the middle for two yards, setting up fourth-and-21 from the Cincinnati 42.
The drive was dead thanks to Hill's thoughtlessness.
That brought in punter Kevin Huber, who booted one 37 yards to the Arizona 21.
Entering Sunday, Hill had exactly half the number of carries (111) that he had last season (222). Half of last season's yardage would be 562 yards, putting Hill roughly 200 yards behind last year's schedule.
Hill is healthy, having not showed up on any injury reports. But his head is not right, making for an unexpected sophomore slump and sidetracking the Bengals' once vaunted running attack.
Further proof of Hill's lack of focus took five Bengals plays to rear its ugly head Sunday against the Cardinals.
Despite the gaffe, the Bengals led Arizona 7-0 after one quarter on Dalton's three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Eifert. Bernard had three touches for 25 yards on the scoring drive, and Hill didn't have a carry.