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Broncos 3rd & long: Rumble in the jungle

How did the defense do in Cincy?

Due to family obligations, I was unable to watch the first half of the game and only got to watch the good half - the second half, the one where the offense looked quite good and the defense was in full effect.

Let’s start this week with the run defense on 1st and 10. In the first game, our first down run defense was not good. The past two games, it has been. The Bengals ran the ball 12 times on first down for 33 yards (not including the kneel-down play). That works out to 2.75 yards per carry. Couple that with two tackles for loss and one stop for no gain and you get a defense that had it’s best statistical performance of the season at stopping the run on first down.

The longest first down run of the day was Jeremy Hill’s eight-yard rush - meaning that we forced Andy Dalton to face a lot of second-and-long situations. The Bengals' average yards needed on second down Sunday was eight.

So far this season teams have run 44 times against us on first down for 169 yards (3.84 ypc), which is 15th in the league. Green Bay currently leads the league at stuffing the run on first down, allowing a measly 2.07 ypc on first-down runs. Baltimore is on the other end of the spectrum, allowing 5.79 ypc. Our defense finished last regular season allowing only 3.26 ypc on first-down runs, which was third in the league.

Defensive Performance on 3rd and Long

Cincinnati faced 13 third downs against us. Six of those were 3rd-and-long (7 yards or more needed to gain). They were held to one of six on such plays:

Quarter Time Down ToGo Location Detail Result
1 1:33 3 10 DEN 48 Andy Dalton pass complete short left to Tyler Boyd for 7 yards (tackle by Shiloh Keo) catch but short
2 6:19 3 9 DEN 37 Andy Dalton pass complete deep middle to C.J. Uzomah for 22 yards (tackle by Darian Stewart) conversion by catch
3 13:07 3 10 CIN 36 Andy Dalton pass incomplete. Penalty on Cedric Ogbuehi: Offensive Holding (Declined) incomplete
3 10:59 3 28 CIN 45 Andy Dalton pass complete short left to Tyler Boyd for 2 yards (tackle by Derek Wolfe) catch but short
4 15:00 3 11 DEN 16 Andy Dalton pass incomplete short right intended for Brandon LaFell (defended by Chris Harris) incomplete
4 0:47 3 15 DEN 16 Andy Dalton pass complete short middle to Giovani Bernard for 5 yards (tackle by Chris Harris) catch but short

That lone conversion in the second quarter was a really nice throw by Andy Dalton to C.J. Uzomah into triple coverage down the seam. Overall the Bengals were able to convert on 6 of 13 third downs. They were 3 of 5 on 3rd-and-short and 2 of 2 on 3rd-and-medium (with one conversion coming on the defensive holding call against Bradley Roby).

For the season, we have now allowed conversion on 8 of 19 3rd-and-longs (42%). That is currently 29th in the league. Surprisingly, the Chargers currently have the best 3rd-and-long defense in the league. They have not allowed a conversion. I count penalty conversions on 3rd-and-long as the defense allowing a conversion, because, well, they are allowing a conversion.

Moving Forward

We face a Buccaneers team that has been hit hard by injuries so far this season. They looked competent against the Falcons in Week 1, then got curb-stomped by the Cardinals in Week 2 and proceeded to make the Rams offense look decent last week. The Rams hadn't scored a touchdown in their first two games, but the Bucs’ defense allowed the Rams to score 37 points - or more than four times their point total from the first two games.

I don’t see the Bucs' defense being able to hold our offense under 30, and I don’t think the Bucs offense will be able to score more than 20 against our defense.