CINCINNATI (AP) — Turns out that the Bengals’ solid showing in Seattle was more of a mirage.
Given a chance to show they’re a team on the upswing, the Bengals imploded every which way Sunday in their home opener. Their 41-17 loss to the 49ers was reminiscent of their many bad moments during the last three losing seasons.
Instead of seeing a fresh start, the crowd of 50,666 got more of the same.
“They just took it to us,” cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. “I definitely thought we would play with a lot more of a sense of urgency. We just have to go out there and take a good look in the mirror at ourselves.”
The Bengals had a solid showing overall during a 21-20 loss in Seattle a week earlier that suggested they were making progress under first-year head coach Zac Taylor. A banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium read: “ZAC-tly What the DR ordered.”
In his regular-season home debut, Taylor’s team fell apart quickly, especially on defense . The 49ers piled up the big plays and 572 yards overall while scoring the most points against the Bengals in a home opener. Now they’re 0-2 for the second time in three years.
“We didn’t see that coming,” Taylor said.
The mistakes came from all directions.
The defense got caught out of position and repeatedly missed tackles . The offense struggled again to run the ball, managing 25 net yards on 19 carries. Randy Bullock missed another field goal. The 49ers got ahead 31-10 to start the third quarter and essentially ran it out, meeting little resistance.
“Poor,” quarterback Andy Dalton said, summing it up. “They took it to us today, and it’s disappointing.”
The line was already depleted by injuries, and it took a few more hits. Left tackle Cordy Glenn missed a second game in concussion protocol. Backup Andre Smith went out with a groin injury in the second quarter. Rookie left guard Michael Jordan suffered a knee injury and was carted off in the second half — Taylor had no updated information about his condition.
The running game also was nonexistent in Seattle, forcing Dalton to carry the load . On Sunday, he was 26 of 42 for 311 yards with four sacks, an interception and two touchdowns, including a 66-yarder to John Ross III with 45 seconds left.
“It’s Week 2, so that’s a positive thing,” center Trey Hopkins said. “But we can’t put a product like that on the field ever again.”
Disappointed by the poor performance, fans started booing in the third quarter and headed for the exits as the start of the fourth. The Bengals drew a comparable 50,018 for their home opener last season, when they finished second to last in the NFL in home attendance.
“I’ve never understood booing,” Dalton said. “I don’t know what it accomplishes. But at the end of the day, we have to play better and give them something to cheer for. We want the fans to be behind us.”