CINCINNATI (AP)The Cincinnati Bengals are a mess, and there’s plenty of blame to go around.
Quarterback Joe Burrow is clearly not himself as he nurses a calf injury. The Bengals’ defense isn’t carrying its weight, either, allowing Derrick Henry to run wild in Sunday’s 27-3 rout by the Tennessee Titans, a team Cincinnati has owned in recent seasons.
The Bengals (1-3) have myriad problems to address and a tough schedule. If they don’t turn it around, the season could spiral fast.
“There’s a long season ahead still, but we don’t have many disregards left,” center Ted Karras said. “We can’t just say, ‘Forget about that one.’ We need to come out and get (wins).”
This Bengals team was thought to have the talent to make another Super Bowl run, led by Burrow, the league’s most accurate quarterback and its highest-paid player.
But after a disastrous start, Cincinnati is going to need some of the old Burrow magic to stay in the AFC North race and make the playoffs. Thus far, the star quarterback hasn’t been able to summon it.
He’s having trouble evading the rush and scrambling, and his passing has been uncharacteristically inaccurate. The Bengals were held to 211 total yards on Sunday.
The Cincinnati defense suddenly can’t stop the run, allowing 173 yards to the Titans. Defenders bounced off Henry, who rushed for 122 and a touchdown and threw for another score out of the wildcat. Ryan Tannehill passed for 240 yards and a TD.
“We practice hard. It’s not that we don’t practice hard,” receiver Ja’Marr Chase said. “I guess we got to find that spark. Somebody’s got to give us that spark.”
Evan McPherson has hit 7 of 9 field-goal tries. Against the Titans and in the opening-week loss to the Browns, a field goal by McPherson put the only Cincinnati points on the board.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Burrow, who missed all of training camp with the calf strain, hasn’t been able to sync up with his receivers. The offensive line, which added Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. in the offseason, had trouble picking up blitzes on Sunday. Burrow was sacked three times and took nine hits. The Bengals have scored four touchdowns, the fewest in the league. The Cincinnati defense was flagged for penalties three times on Titans third downs.
After totaling 70 receiving yards in the first two games, Chase had 12 receptions for 141 yards in the Bengals’ 19-16 win over the Rams. On Sunday, he caught seven of his nine targets for 73 yards. … RB Joe Mixon rushed for 67 yards, averaging nearly 5 yards per carry.
Burrow threw for 165 yards, but his longest completion covered just 17. He said he felt good physically, but he’s looked out of sorts since Week 1.
“We haven’t got anything going,” Burrow said. “We have a lot to get fixed.”
WR Tee Higgins was declared out in the third quarter of Sunday’s game with a rib injury. CB Cam Taylor-Britt left with a concussion.
33% – Cincinnati’s third-down conversion rate through four games.
Getting Burrow healthy and on track will be the top priority as the Bengals prepare to play at Arizona on Sunday.
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