Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis Sums Up Sunday's Win At Cleveland

"What I’m most pleased with about is taking care of the football offensively. We were able to create the takeaways on defense ... Those are key elements."

Upon further review, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was most pleased with his team's effort in valuing the football on Sunday in the road win over Cleveland in Battle of Ohio II.

The coach was also happy about his team's play at the line of scrimmage, and decisions made in the game, which greased the skids for a rout and season sweep of their in-state arch rivals.

"What I’m most pleased with about is taking care of the football offensively. We were able to create the (two) takeaways on defense, early on with Reggie (Nelson). Those are key elements," Lewis said. "Fourth-down stops are almost like turnovers, too, because they set up field position. Those things, you have to feel good about.

"I felt good about the line of scrimmage, for the most part. There are areas to improve in and continue to work hard on. We have to do as well as we can on third down. Don’t let teams off the hook on third down defensively. And, continue to convert third and short on offense as much as we can. Those things are important to help you finish off the red zone drives as well, like we had in the first half. It was a good day for us, now time to move on.”

Hang on, coach. What about the pass rush, with three of the four starting defensive linemen recording sacks.

“Well, I think the guys did a good job when we got into pass-rush situations. That’s going to continue to be a key for this team. We have four games left, and it’s key with each of these games independently, to do a good job of continually rushing the passer with four people when the opportunity comes. Convert on early downs and get them in third down and passing situations.”

Due to injuries, the Bengals played nine rookies Sunday, including the Nos. 2 and 3 tight ends, Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah, in the wake of Tyler Eifert's absence due to a pinched nerve. The coach was happy to comment on that, albeit generally, and added a word about special teams.

"We were pleased with the guys that got an opportunity to play yesterday with their roles and what they did," Lewis said. "It’s what has to happen. Guys have to fit in, and get it done. We feel blessed. I think the thing is, these guys have earned an opportunity. They’re getting it done and doing it. We had two rookies convert third downs at the end of the football game, which was big to keep the defense from having to go back out on the field. Even though those defensive rookies probably wanted more opportunity (laughs). (A.J.) McCarron, with his snaps, was good. We got guys some playing time and exposure, which was good.

“We obviously had some kickoffs to cover. I thought, again, the new guys who hadn’t had an opportunity played well. Margus Hunt, C.J. Uzomah, P.J. Dawson, and Derron Smith all did a good job. They all did a nice job at coverage. The offense did a good job. We only had one punt on the day. That was good to limit exposure on the other side and not have to cover the field that way.”

Regarding running back Jeremy Hill's back-to-back season-high rushing efforts, first against the Rams, then against the Browns, Lewis said: “I think it’s a combination of both (more opportunities and running differently). I think it’s about an opportunity for him to get his shoulders pointed in the right direction. I think we’re doing a good job at the point of attack. We need to continue to do that. I think, for the most part we eliminated some of the penalties that took runs away at times. I think that’s one of the biggest keys. So, you probably have three elements to it.”

And how 'bout those fresh legs for Hill, who's on pace for fewer carries than his rookie season?

“Well, I think it’s obviously important," the coach said. "But, again, we wouldn’t have wasted conversations about this stuff if he didn’t have more earlier.”

Offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, recently off the injured list, was one of the rookies seeing action, for the first time as an NFL player. Lewis said it was a big step, and then he hit the road.

 “I would imagine, from his point of view, his expectations as a player at this point last year in his senior season," said the coach. "Then, he gets injured, has to go through that process with the surgery and rehab. Then, the draft comes and all those things. So, I’m sure just to go back out, and have the opportunity to suit up in an NFL game was a big step for him. I’m sure it was a big relief off of him.”


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