|WR A.J. Green and the Bengals haven't scored a point in the third quarter since Week 2. (AP)|
Games rise and fall at different times for different reasons every week. For the Bengals this season, however, the fall always seems to come at the same time.
Cincinnati has been outscored 57-10 in the third quarter this year.
OK, this happens, you say. But actually, the Bengals outscored their opponents in each of the other three quarters which makes their 47-point disadvantage coming out of halftime all the more remarkable.
As for answers, don't look to coach Marvin Lewis. If he knew the answer, he'd institute it immediately.
“I don't have an idea,” he said. “If you look in the past, that's been a strength. I can look at years past, particularly last year, and it was a strength of ours. It was a strength of ours in the preseason. But right now, it's not. And it's not that the defense has been dreadful, it's just that we've been dreadful on offense in the third quarter.”
Dreadful would be the proper term. The Bengals haven't scored a point in the third quarter since a 44-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Tate on Sept. 16 in the first Cleveland game.
On Sunday, the Bengals defense was in the midst of stringing together seven consecutive three-and-outs, but the offense offered nothing to take advantage. Against Miami, a 7-6 game turned to what proved to be an insurmountable 17-6 deficit coming out of the third. What could have been a blowout against Washington turned into a tie game after the Redskins ran off 14 unanswered points.
Lewis didn't fib about the third quarter being a strength in 2011. The Bengals outscored opponents 86-50. Last year it was the second quarter that continuously buried Cincinnati. They outscored opponents by at least 26 points in every quarter except the second where they allowed 132 points and scored only 59.
These could just be statistical anomalies. Or maybe the symptom of a larger disease. Following Sunday's loss, Lewis called his team too nice. When leading entering the third quarter, Lewis doesn't see his team owning the killer instinct to put the opponent away.
“You got to be able to stomp on the back of somebody's neck and go,” Lewis said. “That's what this is all about. We don't get mulligans. We are playing for lunch tickets and we are playing for keeps. You got to go when it is time to go you got to put them away in every way.”
Putting them away in the third quarter would be the goal. Scoring the occasional point would be a nice place to start.
Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates on Twitter at @CBSBengals.