|2011 Cincinnati Bengals season|
|Head coach||Marvin Lewis|
|Home field||Paul Brown Stadium|
|Local radio||WCKY, WEBN|
|Division place||3rd AFC North|
|Playoff finish||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Texans) 10-31|
The 2011 Cincinnati Bengals season was the franchise's 44th season as a professional football team and 42nd in the National Football League (NFL). The Bengals entered the season coming off a 4-12 in 2010. Head Coach Marvin Lewis was re-signed by the team. Quarterback (QB) Carson Palmer demanded a trade and was dealt to the Oakland Raiders. Wide receiver (WR) Chad Johnson was traded to the New England Patriots. Replacing the two, the organization drafted QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green in the 2011 NFL Draft. The start of the 2011 season was hindered by a lockout, which cancelled the teams' mini-camp.
After going 1-3 in pre-season, the Bengals started their season off with a win against division rival Cleveland Browns, en route to a 9-7 record--their best outing since 2009. It received a Wild Card spot in the 2011-12 NFL playoffs where it lost in the opening round to the Houston Texans. Four players--Dalton, Green, defensive lineman (DL) Geno Atkins, and tight end (TE) Jermaine Gresham--were elected to the 2012 Pro Bowl; Atkins was also selected to the Associated Press' 2011 All-Pro Team.
|LB||Thomas Howard||Oakland Raiders||2 years, $6.5 million|
|RB||Cedric Benson||Cincinnati Bengals||1 year, $4.5 million|
|QB||Bruce Gradkowski||Oakland Raiders||2 years, $4 million|
|RB||Brian Leonard||Cincinnati Bengals||2 years, $2 million|
|S||Gibril Wilson||Cincinnati Bengals||1 year|
|G||Nate Livings||Cincinnati Bengals||1 year|
|CB||Johnathan Joseph||Houston Texans|
|G||Evan Mathis||Philadelphia Eagles|
The Bengals finished their 2010 season with 4-12 record, their worst outing since 2002. In January 2011, the Bengals organization re-signed coach Marvin Lewis for another two years. Wide receivers Chad Johnson's and Terrell Owens's contracts expired, and the team did not re-sign them. Also, veteran quarterback Carson Palmer wanted to leave the Bengals via trade; he claimed if he could not be traded, he would retire. The Bengals organization decided to trade Palmer to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round draft pick in 2012 and a conditional draft pick in 2013 that is a second-rounder unless the Raiders win a playoff game, when it would become a first-rounder. Also The Bengals fired Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski and replaced him with Jay Gruden
Following the end of 2010 season, the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the owners of all 32 NFL teams and the players was set to expire on March 3, 2011. The two parties, however, decided to extend the CBA one more week in order to create a new CBA. A new CBA was not reached, and the owners locked out the players from team facilities and shut down league operations. The major issues disputed were the salary cap, players' safety and health benefits, revenue sharing and television contracts, transparency of financial information, rookie salaries, season length, and free agency guidelines. A new CBA could not be reached in time, and the annual Hall of Fame Game was cancelled. Also, teams could not hold official mini-camps because of the lockout. On July 25, 2011, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith signed a new, 10-year CBA, and the lockout officially ended.
The 2011 NFL Draft was held on April 28 to 30, 2011 at Radio City Music Hall. In the first round, the Bengals picked AJ Green, a wide receiver (WR) from Georgia University, at overall selection number 4. In his last season at Georgia, Green missed the first four games, but he finished with a team-high 57 receptions for 848 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. The Bengals selected TCU quarterback (QB) Andy Dalton in the second round, with overall selection number 35. These first two picks were replacements for starting WR Chad Ochocinco and QB Carson Palmer, respectively. In the third round, the Bengals selected defensive lineman (DL) Dontay Moch of University of Nevada. During the NFL Scouting Combine, Moch ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, making him the fastest DL to ever run the dash. The Bengals' next pick was another player from Georgia University; it selected offensive lineman (OL) Clint Boling in the fourth round. Boling was a 3-time All-SEC pick and, during his college tenure, was a versatile lineman who can play tackle or guard. In the fifth round, free safety (FS) Robert Sands was chosen with the 134 pick. The Bengals' picked WR Ryan Whalen of Stanford University in the sixth round. The final two picks for the Bengals were cornerback (CB) Korey Lindsey of Southern Illinois University and runningback (RB) Jay Finley of Baylor University. In July, the Bengals signed five draft picks to contracts.
|5||134||Robert Sands||FS||West Virginia|
|7||207||Korey Lindsey||CB||Southern Illinois|
Training camp was held at Georgetown College, in Georgetown, Kentucky, for the 15th straight year. Players reported on July 28, the first practice was July 30, and camp ended on August 7. On July 28, the Bengals traded Ochocinco to the New England Patriots for a late draft pick in 2012 and another late pick in 2013. A few days later, RB Cedric Benson, who was arrested prior, signed a new, one-year contract with the team. Other notable roster changes during training camp include cutting DE Antwan Odom because of his injury, and CB Johnathan Joseph was picked up from free agency by the Houston Texans.
The San Diego Union Tribune claimed Green was the best player of the entire training camp. The Bengals wanted CB Adam Jones to participate to hopefully become the starter; however, he did not participate in camp due to a neck injury. On the first day of practice, LB Roddrick Muckelro ruptured his Achilles' tendon, which caused him to miss the entire season. Dalton played well enough in training camp for Marvin Lewis to nominate him to be the starter for the opening pre-season game. Former Bengals QB Boomer Esiason criticized this move claiming, "If they force-feed [Dalton] and put him in games right away, he will get killed. He will get eaten alive."
Cincinnati opened their pre-season schedule with a 34-3 loss to the Detroit Lions. The first offensive play for the Bengals resulted in a sack from DL Ndamukong Suh, and the pass was intercepted by CB Chris Houston. The only score for the Bengals was a field goal from kicker Mike Nugent. For its second game, the Bengals traveled to New Jersey to play the New York Jets. The final score of the game was a 27-7 defeat. The Bengals' offense was not productive, and Dalton claimed, "I have to come out and play better." In pre-season week 3, the Bengals played their first home game of the season, and won 24-13 against the Carolina Panthers. The Bengals' final game was another home game, playing against the Indianapolis Colts. The starters did not play much, and the team ended up losing 17-14. On September 3, 2011, the Bengals' organization released 27 roster spots, in order to make room for the limit of 53 players. It also acquired WR Brandon Tate, OL Mike McGlynn, and TE Mickey Shuler from waivers.
|1||at Detroit Lions||L 3-34||0-1||Ford Field|||
|2||at New York Jets||L 7-27||0-2||New Meadowlands Stadium|||
|3||Carolina Panthers||W 24-13||1-2||Paul Brown Stadium|||
|4||Indianapolis Colts||L 13-17||1-3||Paul Brown Stadium|||
Based on 2010 standings, the Bengals had an easy schedule, with an opponent winning percentage of .473; 5 teams were played against that finished 2011 with winning records, and 8 teams were played against that finished 2011 with losing records. The Bengals played each of the teams in the AFC North twice, once home and once on the road. It played its home games at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati's match-ups included the Seattle Seahawks and the Colts, both of which won its respective divisions in 2010. Because of the Bengals' losing record in 2010, the NFL decided to not give Cincinnati any prime-time games.
Six of the Bengals' eight home games were blacked out locally due to poor ticket sales. Dating back to 2010, seven consecutive games were blacked out locally. That streak ended in week 10 when the Bengals hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers. There were three more blackouts before the Bengals sold out the final home game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens, a game with playoff implications for both teams. The Bengals' average home crowd of 49,251 was the worst of the entire NFL.
Green was one of four players from the Bengals to be nominated to the 2012 Pro Bowl, who became the first rookie WR to accomplish this feat since 2003. The other three players were Datlon, Atkins, and Gresham.Andrew Whitworth was the only player to make the Associated Press' All-Pro team. In week 10, Dalton threw his thirteenth and fourteenth touchdown pass, making him the most passing touchdowns by a rookie in his team's first nine games since the AFL-NFL merger (1970). He also placed second in the Associated Press' Offensive Player of the Year award.
|1||September 11||at Cleveland Browns||W 27-17||1-0||Cleveland Browns Stadium|||
|2||September 18||at Denver Broncos||L 22-24||1-1||Sports Authority Field at Mile High|||
|3||September 25||San Francisco 49ers||L 8-13||1-2||Paul Brown Stadium|||
|4||October 2||Buffalo Bills||W 23-20||2-2||Paul Brown Stadium|||
|5||October 9||at Jacksonville Jaguars||W 30-20||3-2||EverBank Field|||
|6||October 16||Indianapolis Colts||W 27-17||4-2||Paul Brown Stadium|||
|8||October 30||at Seattle Seahawks||W 34-12||5-2||CenturyLink Field|||
|9||November 6||at Tennessee Titans||W 24-17||6-2||LP Field|||
|10||November 13||Pittsburgh Steelers||L 17-24||6-3||Paul Brown Stadium|||
|11||November 20||at Baltimore Ravens||L 24-31||6-4||M&T Bank Stadium|||
|12||November 27||Cleveland Browns||W 23-20||7-4||Paul Brown Stadium|||
|13||December 4||at Pittsburgh Steelers||L 7-35||7-5||Heinz Field|||
|14||December 11||Houston Texans||L 19-20||7-6||Paul Brown Stadium|||
|15||December 18||at St. Louis Rams||W 20-13||8-6||Edward Jones Dome|||
|16||December 24||Arizona Cardinals||W 23-16||9-6||Paul Brown Stadium|||
|17||January 1||Baltimore Ravens||L 16-24||9-7||Paul Brown Stadium|||
The 2011 season was the Bengals' tenth season as members of the AFC North Division. In 2010, the Bengals finished fourth--and last--place in the standings. Entering the 2011 season, sportswriter Andy Benoit of The New York Times and five analysts for ESPN predicted the team to finish last. The Bengals finished the regular season with a 9-7 record, which was good enough for the team to win a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. The Cleveland Browns was the only team from the division to not make the playoffs; the Baltimore Ravens won the division, and the Pittsburgh Steelers earned the second Wild Card spot.
September 11, 2011 at Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
The Bengals started their regular season against the Cleveland Browns, in front of 67,321 spectators at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. On the Bengals' opening drive, the team drove 53-yards and got a field goal. The Bengals' next two drives were a touchdown and another field goal, respectively. Cleveland scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to be up 14-13 going into halftime. On the Bengals' final offensive play before halftime, Dalton was sacked and injured; he did not play the rest of the game. The Bengals were the first to get the ball in the third quarter, but it did not score the entire quarter. On the other hand, the Browns kicked a field goal in the third to go up by four points. In the final quarter, the Bengals scored two touchdowns, including the longest play of the game: a 44-yard reception to Green. With the win, the Bengals began the season 1-0 and secured their first regular season opening day win since 2007. Also, Dalton became the fifth quarterback to win his road debut as a rookie.
September 18, 2011 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado
The Bengals came into the game losing the previous two games against the Denver Broncos. The Bengals have not won at Denver since 1975. Dalton started the game, despite missing practices and not being cleared until Friday because of his wrist injury. Paid attendance of 73,281 was the highest amount of any games the Bengals played in 2011. The first score of the game happened in the first quarter when RB Willis McGahee ran one yard for a touchdown. Both teams scored a field goal in the second quarter to make the game 10-3 going into halftime.
Denver QB Kyle Orton threw two touchdown passes to WR Eric Decker--one in the third quarter and one in the fourth quarter. With two minutes left in the game, the Bengals were down 24-22 and tried to score to win the game. The Bengals reached midfield, but the Broncos' defense stopped the Bengals and a fourth-and-nineteen occurred. Dalton threw the ball away, and a turnover on downs happened. Dalton's passer rating of 107.0 was a franchise best by a rookie, and WR Jerome Simpson had a career-high 136 receiving yards. WR Jordan Shipley torn his anterior cruciate ligament this game, which ended his 2011 season.
September 25, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio (Blacked Out)
Playing versus the San Francisco 49ers for the first time since 2003, the Bengals lost 13-8 with the smallest crowd for a Bengals home opener since 1981. Before the game, the team activated Simpson, who was previously injured. The only score in the first half was when Nugent kicked a 22-yard field goal in the first quarter. It took until 3 minutes left in the third quarter for another score, when 49ers' kicker David Akers tied the game with a field goal. The Bengals' final possession ended when 49ers' Reggie Smith intercepted Dalton's pass with 1:45 left in the game. It was Dalton's first performance where his passer rating was below 100; this game he completed 17 of 32 passes for 157 yards and a rating of 40.8. Coach Lewis claimed the lack of third-down conversions (1-10) were the main reason why the team lost, saying that "We are not converting the third downs or converting in the red zone, and we are not coming away with touchdowns. Right now, that is our biggest deficiency."
October 2, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio (Blacked Out)
After two losses, the Bengals played the Buffalo Bills at home with 41,142 people in attendance. Simpson was able to play this game, despite being under investigation for marijuana. Prior to this game, the Bengals lost 10-straight games to the Bills, dating back to the 1988 AFC championship game. After two possessions resulting in punts, the Bengals got a field goal in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Bills scored three times. Kicker Rian Lindell kicked a 43-yard field goal. In the next Bengals possession, Dalton threw an interception, which was returned for a touchdown. The Bills' running back Fred Jackson scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown for the team to be up 17-3 going into half time. Nugent kicked a field goal, and Gresham caught a touchdown pass in the third quarter to make the score 13-17 going into the final quarter. Lindell kicked a field goal on the Bills' opening drive to make the score 20-13. Dalton had a three-yard rushing touchdown two possessions later to tie the game at 20-20. On the Bengals' final possession of the game, on third-down-and-three-yards-to-go, Dalton scrambled and attempted to make the first down. He was originally called short the referee, but the call was reversed once the play was reviewed. Nugent kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to beat the Bills 23-20. The win by the Bengals snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Bills. The Bengals had not beaten the Bills since the 1989 AFC Championship Game.
With the win, the Bengals went to 3-2.
With the win, the Bengals went to 4-2. They also defeated the Colts for the first time since 1997, snapping their 7-game losing streak against them.
October 30, 2011 at CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
The Bengals took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a Mike Nugent 34-yard field goal and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Jerome Simpson. The Seahawks tallied 411 total yards, mostly through the air, behind backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, but were kept out of the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter. After a 48-yard field goal by Mike Nugent with 4:50 left in the game gave the Bengals a 20-12 lead, the Bengals sealed the victory with a Brandon Tate 56-yard punt return for a touchdown, and a Reggie Nelson 75-yard interception return for a touchdown.
With the win, the Bengals improved to 6-2 and captured their first 5-game winning streak since 1988.
With the loss, the Bengals fell to 6-3, and had their 5-game winning streak snapped.
With the loss, the Bengals fell to 6-4.
With the win, the Bengals improved to 7-4.
With the loss, the Bengals fell to 7-5.
With the stunning loss, the Bengals fell to 7-6, and are now in danger of falling out of the wild card hunt.
With the win, the Bengals went to 8-6, and are still in the Wild Card hunt.
December 24, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
The Bengals took a 20-0 halftime lead on the strength of Andy Dalton touchdown passes to Jermaine Gresham and Jerome Simpson, as well as two Mike Nugent field goals. The Cardinals finally mounted a comeback rally in the fourth quarter, but it fell short. This was the game when Jerome Simpson did a complete flip over Daryl Washington and landed on his feet for a touchdown. The Bengals improved to 9-6.
January 1, 2012 at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
In their final regular season game of the year, the Bengals played against the Ravens for a second time. Since the game had playoff implications for both teams, the game time was moved from 1:00 PM EST to 4:15 PM EST. It was the second sell-out game for the Bengals all season. The first score of the game came in the first quarter when Ravens running back Ray Rice ran for a 70-yard touchdown. Nugent made three field goals this game, which gave him a team-record of 33 for the season. The team was down by 8 with 1:05 left in the game on their own 20-yard line. The game ended in a 24-16 loss when Dalton threw a pass out of the end zone as time expired. Despite the loss, the Bengals still gained a playoff spot because the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets lost, which allowed the Bengals to have the final Wild Card spot--their third appearance in the past 20 years.
Their 9-7 regular season record gave the Bengals the second Wild Card spot in the AFC. Their record was tied with the Tennessee Titans, but it won the tie breaker because it had a better head-to-head win percentage. The Bengals were looking to get their first playoff win since 1990. This did not occur, as the team lost to the Houston Texans on January 7, 2012.
|Wild Card||January 7, 2012||4:35 PM||NBC||at Houston Texans||L 10-31||Reliant Stadium||71,725||0-1|||