Bengals vs. Cowboys recap: Takeaways, everything to know from Week 2

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The Cincinnati Bengals hit an 0-2 record with Sunday’s loss against the Dallas Cowboys on the road.

It was fair for Bengals fans to go into the game with some optimism given the notable upward trend in the late stages of a season-opening loss to the Steelers.

That, plus it didn’t hurt that the Cowboys would be without starting quarterback Dak Prescott.

Instead, the Bengals came out flat and the opposing quarterback didn’t really matter — Dallas drummed up a huge lead early and put the Bengals in comeback mode all game.

In the immediate aftermath of the loss, here are some top takeaways and notes to know.

The OL remains an issue

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Yes, there were times on Sunday when Joe Burrow just needed to get rid of the ball and it had a way of making the offensive line look bad, too. But it was hardly all Burrow — both Bengals tackles Jonah Williams and La’el Collins got whipped by Micah Parsons multiple times. Collins especially looked stiff and out of place all game at right tackle. Some of this will fix itself as the rust wears off and these two weeks were brutally tough matchups. But it’s not what anyone should want to see after the big-money upgrades.

Coaching

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It’s a conversation worth having. This is two weeks in a row the team came out terribly out of the gates. And even worse, this was a continuation of the team’s inexplicable struggles against inexperienced passers. It’s also worth asking why some of the game plan was to straight-up not block some of the best pass-rushers on the field or why Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd didn’t receive hardly any attention in the first half. The coaching, at least, shouldn’t be coming out this rusty at the start of a season.

Special teams

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The good news? Evan McPherson was back in form on Sunday. After the injury to long-snapper Clark Harris that robbed the team of a win last week, Cal Adomitis did his part well in his first pro start.

Tip drills

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The defense dropped three-plus turnovers in this one in a stunning display of should-have-been turnovers. Mike Hilton, Jessie Bates and Sam Hubbard dropped at least one, if not more. There were so many it was easy to miss, truthfully. Rest assured the coaches will be working through turnover-specific drills this week.

Slow starts

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This game isn’t even a contest if the defense wasn’t asleep on the first two drives. Dallas scored three points in the second quarter and nothing through the third and fourth frames. Whatever the coaches and players need to do in order to fix the slow starts is a must, because this should have been a rout that re-asserted the Bengals as a Super Bowl team.

Other in-game notes

(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

— Brutal start for the defense as Cowboys backup Cooper Rush guided Dallas to an opening-drive touchdown. This weird trend of the Bengals defense struggling against debuting and/or inexperienced quarterbacks continued.

— Burrow took a really bad sack on the first offensive drive, a continuation of Week 1. La’el Collins got beat on the edge, too. The field goal, at least, was good with backup long-snapper Cal Adomitis looking good on the snap.

— Bengals in a quick 14-3 hole. Tony Pollard took a quick-hitter 50-plus yards for what was eventually ruled down at the one, only to punch it in a player later. Defense got dominated in every facet.

— Cincinnati’s offensive line is clearly a major problem, but so is the strategy. There were multiple examples of Micah Parsons going unblocked on the edge.

— That offensive attack also didn’t use much of Tee Higgins or Tyler Boyd in the first half, a perplexing decision given their ability to enable quick-hitting passes that negate an opponent’s pass-rusher.

— Huge number of dropped picks in this one, each of which could have had game-altering impacts.

— Burrow’s good for at least one “how did he do that?” play per game and that one came on a third-and-10 in the fourth quarter on a deep shot to Tee Higgins while under pressure. He did it again later to Ja’Marr Chase on a key fourth down.

— To cap it all off, Burrow ran off-script and hit Higgins for a touchdown, then Tyler Boyd for the two-point conversion to tie things up.

— Bengals, again struggling with offensive playcalling, failed to capitalize on a two-minute chance to win the game and wound up punting. Dallas got in field goal range in the closing moments and ended it.

Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire