CINCINNATI -- It is difficult to win in the NFL with a one-dimensional offense. But, that's what the Cincinnati Bengals attempted to do through two weeks.
While quarterback Andy Dalton leads the league with 732 passing yards, the Bengals are second from the bottom in rushing with 103 yards on 37 attempts.
In Sunday's 24-16 loss at Pittsburgh, the Bengals averaged fewer than two yards per first-down carry, resulting in Dalton making a career-high 54 pass attempts on a soggy afternoon at Heinz Field.
"It's something we have to do a better job of," said running back Jeremy Hill. "We have to go back to the lab and get better, just try to get the run game going."
It certainly didn't help that the Bengals faced stingy run defenses the first two weeks in the Jets and Steelers. They encounter another one Sunday when they host the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, who are allowing 83.6 yards on the ground through two games.
"We have to have some improvement in the run game," Dalton said. "We haven't had the run game we wanted to. You can't have the one guy make a mistake. We have to have everyone on the same page."
The disparity in pass attempts to rush attempts partly is the result of how the first two games went, with the Bengals finding themselves behind early, and Dalton checking off to pass plays based on what the defenses give him.
"It's a combination of (things)," he said. "You get the feel for how the game's going."
The absence of a running threat hurt Cincinnati on Sunday in the red zone where they settled for field goals on three occasions, including once when they had first-and-goal at the one.
"You absolutely want to run the ball down there," Dalton said.
Coach Marvin Lewis likes how his team is protecting the football in the red zone, but lamented the fact that in six attempts this season they came away with one TD and five field goals.
"We have to be efficient and score touchdowns," Lewis said.
So, how can the Bengals keep Von Miller and the vaunted Broncos defense on its heels? That could be a tall order.
It's unlikely that tight end Tyler Eifert will be back this week, although he began practicing and is getting closer. It's been tough sledding for Hill and for Gio Bernard, who's now more of a threat in the passing game.
The Bengals have had success with a short quick-hit passing attack, which has helped set up throws downfield to A.J. Green.
Dalton said the Broncos trust their cornerbacks in man coverage, so the Bengals will need to take advantage of those situations.
"You have to get the ball out of your hand quick," said Dalton. "They're really good upfront. We have to trust our guys to win in one-on-one coverages. There's not one place where (the Broncos defense) is lacking. They are good all over."
SERIES HISTORY: This is the 30th meeting between the teams. The Broncos lead the series 20-9, including a 20-17 overtime victory last December in Denver.