Cowboys, Bengals looking to halt losing skids
The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t been able to stitch together two halves, and the Dallas Cowboys haven’t been able to finish off drives.
The two scuffling teams face off Sunday afternoon when the Cowboys (3-9) visit the Bengals (2-9-1) at Paul Brown Stadium.
It’s a short turnaround week for Dallas, which took another humiliating loss Tuesday night in a 34-17 setback at Baltimore. The game was played on Tuesday due to COVID-19 issues that have engulfed the Ravens’ roster in recent weeks.
Dallas gave up 294 rushing yards in the loss, its second in a row and sixth in the last seven games. The Cowboys have given up an NFL-worst 393 points in 12 games (32.8 per game).
The Cowboys have issues on offense, too. Dallas has scored more than 20 points just once in the last seven games — a 32-28 win at Minnesota on Nov. 22.
“We’re getting good field position, we’re getting the ball on their side of the 50,” running back Ezekiel Elliott said Tuesday. “We’ve got to score touchdowns. That’s kind of been the story this year.”
The Bengals know all about low point production. Cincinnati has lost four in a row since its last win, on Nov. 1 against the Tennessee Titans, and has amassed just 10 second-half points combined during the skid. The downturn increased dramatically with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow’s season-ending knee injury early in the third quarter of a 20-9 loss at the Washington Football Team.
Cincinnati has held the lead, or been tied, at the break in each of the last three games but lost each game nonetheless. The most recent example was a 19-7 loss at Miami on Sunday. The Bengals led 7-6 at the half, but managed just 25 yards of offense after the break.
“It’s frustrating when you don’t pull these games out at the end,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “There are going to be ugly games sometimes that can come down to a late score to see who wins, and we haven’t been efficient enough in the second half in really all three phases.”
Brandon Allen has started each of the last two games for Cincinnati at quarterback, and hasn’t played poorly considering the circumstances, but was sacked five times and didn’t finish the game Sunday at Miami. He’s expected to start again, however, Taylor said.
Offensive line issues have marred the Bengals’ season throughout, and those aren’t likely to be alleviated this week after Cincinnati placed former first-round pick Jonah Williams on the reserved/injured list with a knee injury. Williams made 10 starts this season at left tackle.
The Bengals also activated cornerback Darius Phillips (groin) from the injured list on Wednesday, which should help a beleaguered secondary that gears up to face a former teammate.
Dallas quarterback Andy Dalton returns to Cincinnati for the first time since the team terminated his contract in April. A 2011 second-round draft pick with the Bengals, Dalton left as the franchise leader in completions (2,757), touchdown passes (204), passer rating (87.5) and 300-yard passing games (28).
The Cowboys, technically, remain in the hunt in the NFC East where they trail Washington and the Giants by two games in the standings.
“Frankly, we need to play better. We need to perform better,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “We got a short week and we need to go beat Cincinnati. The fourth quarter of the season is upon us. Our goal is to finish strong, but it definitely starts with a win in Cincinnati.”
–Field Level Media