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Good Morning AFC North! Bengals Upset by Dolphins


People expect to see strange and scary things on Halloween, but almost no one expected to see the Bengals fall 22-20 to the Dolphins in overtime due to a safety.  To add to the horror, the Bengals best defender, Geno Atkins, is feared to have torn his ACL which would sideline him for the rest of the year and deal a significant blow to a defense that has been getting banged up over the last several games.

For Halloween Andy Dalton dressed up as Mark Sanchez, throwing for three interceptions on a whopping 53 attempts for a miserable quarterback rating of 55.4.  While he did throw for 338 yards on the night and completed 60.4% of his passes, he simply seemed off and so did two of his receivers, A.J. Green and Muhamed Sanu, who collectively had 4 dropped passes according to PFF.

In what could have been a frightening night for the Steelers, Browns, and Ravens — watching their divisional foe take a commanding three game heading into the weekend — the Bengals got tricked into thinking the Dolphins would be a pushover in prime time and were treated to an unexpected loss.

Related News: Geno Atkins has ACL injury; Video: Bernard’s terrific run; Harrison leaves with thumb injury; Hawkins activated from IR; Dalton Named offensive player of the Month.


Norv Turner signaled out two players he expects improvement from moving forward when he answered questions before Wednesday’s practice.  Greg Little, who almost perennially seems to be on the offensive coordinator’s mind for his penchant for dropping passes and Davone Bess, who before becoming a Brown was considered to have reliable hands but doesn’t seem to be living up to that billing.

How bad has it been for each player so far this season?  According to PFF, who tracks drops and catch percentages (among other stats you don’t find at places like ESPN or NFL.com), Greg Little on 49 targets has dropped the ball 5 times and has a catch percentage of 42.9% with two interceptions coming from when quarterbacks throw his way.  I mention interception percentage only because sometimes those are the result of tipped balls or bad route running.  It’s very hard to directly cast blame on the receiver for this by just looking at the stats so it’s just something to keep in mind.

Davone Bess has caught 51.9% of the balls thrown his way on 54 targets, but also has a league high number of drops with 9, which equates to about 17% of the passes thrown his way.  While throwing Bess’s way, the Browns have been intercepted once.

By way of comparison, Antonio Brown has the highest catch percentage in the division at 81.2%, Marvin Jones and Torrey Smith are tied with the least drops (none), and more passes have been intercepted throwing A.J. Green’s way than any other receiver with 5 passes being picked off.  It is worth mentioning that Emmanuel Sanders also ranks high in this category with 4 passes being intercepted but with barely half the targets. For whatever reason, throwing Sanders’s way is particularly dangerous.

Do stats have your head spinning yet?  Maybe I went overboard a bit, but I wanted to illustrate just how poorly Bess is doing.  Greg Little isn’t doing well, but Bess is leading the league in drops and as a pedestrian catch percentage for a possession receiver.  Even though Bess is under contract through 2016, if he doesn’t get his act together the Browns would be better off looking elsewhere for a guy who can reliably move the chain on third down.

Related News: Packers block attempt to ‘poach’ Tolzien; Haden: “The Ravens aren’t the Ravens of old”; Norv expects more from Little, Bess; Horton On Stats Highlights (HOSH).


Streaks are made to be broken.  It’s an almost unavoidable rule to sports, and while some seem as though they may exist forever, in a league so focused on parity they rarely last for long.

The Ravens are riding one such streak having won 11 games in a row against the Cleveland Browns and hope to make it 12 on Sunday afternoon when they meet for the second time this season, this time in Cleveland.

One player in particular, Willis McGahee, was there to see the last time the Browns won but was on the opposite side of the field as he watched the Browns kicker play Plinko with the final field goal of the game which ricocheted off of the upright, past the crossbar, but hit the support column and bounced back into the field of play making it appear as if it were no good.  While it was correctly ruled a field goal by the officials it seemed to usher in an era where the ball never really bounced in the Browns favor again.

Looking forward to Sunday, if the Bengals/Dolphins game is any indication for how the weekend will play out, we may very well see the end of the streak and perhaps in equally unusual fashion.

Related News:  Rice shows off tattoos in ‘My Ink’; Oher downplays sprained ankle; McClain announced as starter moving forward but will share time with Brown, Bynes; Ray Lewis sues bank for almost $4 million.


Someone to keep an eye on is Curtis Brown, who is currently Ike Taylors’ backup at right corner, as he was excused from practice for personal reasons yesterday.

Brown, drafted in the third round in 2011, has been inactive over the past two games and presumably will miss a third game this weekend.  Primarily a special teams player at this point in his career, Brown was not anticipated to have a major impact on Sunday’s action even if activated.

I say ‘keep an eye’ on this for two reasons, first being that missing practice for personal reasons after being absent for the last two games could indicate that there are some serious issues happening off the field for Brown which may become newsworthy in the near future, but more importantly it seems as though Brown is heading down the path to bust status.

As Dave Bryan at Steelersdepot.com said in an earlier article, Brown’s decline is becoming reminiscent of Limas Sweed’s inevitable exit from the team with personal issues.  That, and Sweed having stone hands.

Related News: Get Jarvis Jones back on the field; four plays the got Jones demoted

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  • brick914

    Terrible loss for the Bengals. After riding high on Daltons impressive performances of late I expect much “Dalton isn’t the guy” sentiment until the next game. And the loss of Atkins, just ouch.

  • brick914

    This was another game where at the end of regulation you looks at certain stats and thought, how in the world did they lose? Bengals were dominating 1st down/TOP/total plays. I know, it’s the turnovers. Dalton get’s a lot of the blame for this one. Dropped passes or not, that potential 14 point swing with his pick six was all on him.

    • Bob_Donovan_TLB

      I agree. Dalton had a terrible night. Reminded me of Joe’s game against the Bills.

    • Peatwo

      I would say mostly on him. The WR didn’t do him any favors by letting the ball come to him instead of going after it. That guy also had a drop that led to another INT.

      But a struggling ginger on Halloween? I feel like there was some ghostly spirit involved in this one

  • Baltimorefan1983

    What the heck happened to this blog????

    • Bob_Donovan_TLB

      Hello Baltimorefan1983. If you are looking to chat, use the “Go to the Livefyre Chat!” link above. This comment section is now for article-relevant comments only.

  • Heywood Jablome

    Can a third round pick qualify for bust status?

    BTW – Rough night for Bengals fans losing Geno Atkins. It’s a shame, there are just way too many NFL players being lost for the season.

    • Bob_Donovan_TLB

      I think any pick can be considered a bust, but a 7th round pick is more like popping bubblegum (no one really cares) where as having a top five pick bust is like setting off an atomic bomb.

      Brown falls somewhere in the middle. That’s how I look at it anyway…I’m sure there will be those who disagree. It wouldn’t be a catastrophic loss for the Steelers, but having second day guys not work out does hurt a little.

  • Heywood Jablome

    Coulda sworn I posted this before, but I noticed that Alan Baxter is not currently on the Steelers practice squad, nor their roster. Does anybody know what happened to him? I had high hopes for him developing as a pass rushing OLB.

  • Heywood Jablome

    Does PFF list anywhere what their definition of a “drop” is?

    • Bob_Donovan_TLB

      Not explicitly. My assumption is that it is somewhat subjective, which is why drop rates tend to vary from source to source. Some people grade on the “if it hit the receiver in the hands he should have caught it” rule, but I don’t know how they handle fingertip-style drops.

      • Heywood Jablome

        I think you need to hit on the 3rd round over half the time
        to be successful. But, you had me thinking about this, so I went and
        looked at the Ravens and Steelers recent drafts. Both teams have been very successful in the 3rd
        round over recent years, I’m assuming a lot more successful than the league
        average. In some cases, the teams hit
        multiple 3rd rounds picks in the same year. Interestingly, a little further back, the
        Raven’s went without a 3rd round pick in several drafts.

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