Bengals’ defense to face big test against KC
CINCINNATI (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 46 times and got hit only once. When the Bengals’ defense went with an all-out blitz in the closing seconds to try to get a hand on him, Big Ben threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown to win the game.
The Bengals’ defense had one of its worst performances against its biggest nemesis, a big reason why Pittsburgh was able to pull out a 28-21 win. Up next is an even better offense, this time in a daunting place on the road.
Oh, and they’ll play the Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) on a Sunday night, a prime time slot in which they have rated horribly for years. The Bengals have dropped their past eight games on Sunday night, when they’re 3-15 overall.
“Any time you want to be one of the great ones on the defense or you want your defense to have a statement-type game, you have to do it against the best offenses in the league,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “And right now, they’re putting up those points like they’re one of the best offenses in the league. So you’ve got to go out there and put it on ‘em.”
The Bengals (4-2) barely even got close to Roethlisberger in their most disappointing showing of the season. They allowed him to complete 32 passes for 369 yards without being sacked. James Conner ran for 111 yards. The Steelers piled up 481 yards overall.
Compounding the bad day: Several players got hurt, forcing the Bengals to rely on backups on the final series. Brown was able to get off the line unchallenged to make the decisive catch on a quick slant and then run untouched to the end zone.
Their defense is depleted by injuries heading to Kansas City (5-1), which also is coming off a last-minute loss, 43-40 at New England . Linebacker Nick Vigil is out indefinitely with a knee injury, safety Shawn Williams is in concussion protocol, and cornerback Darqueze Dennard is sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Four other defensive players were limited in practice Wednesday because of injuries, although they’re likely to play on Sunday.
“It makes it harder, yeah, but we’ve got 1a and 1b,” Dunlap said.
The game matches two of the NFL’s worst defenses. The Bengals rank 29th overall in yards allowed, and the Chiefs are last .
On offense, Kansas City ranks fifth behind Patrick Mahomes, who leads the NFL with 18 touchdown passes and is fifth with a 112.2 passer rating. His 23 completions of at least 25 yards are the most in the league as well.
The Bengals know they can’t have another game with little pass rush from the line.
“We’re going to keep trying to dial it up,” defensive end Jordan Willis said. “That probably could be the main reason why we didn’t win the game — not keeping the quarterback in the pocket. Skip to this week. Mahomes, when gets out of the pocket, that’s when he’s most dangerous. So if we don’t keep him in the pocket, it could be a similar situation.”
DALTON SORE: Andy Dalton was listed with a sore back on the injury report, but he practiced fully. Receiver John Ross also had a full practice after missing Sunday’s game with a sore groin.
PRICE OUT OF BOOT: Rookie center Billy Price has been cleared to begin rehabilitation on his right foot, which has a partially torn ligament. He had to wear a protective boot for four weeks while it healed. There’s no timetable for when he could return.
STILL NO GIO: Running back Giovani Bernard is still being held out of practice because of knee and toe injuries. He’s been sidelined the past two games.