No, this was not a scrimmage, although, I am sure I would have more to feel better about if it was. No it is just a simple matter of time of possession killing the Bengals. In six drives in the first half the Bengals punted 5 times, and those were all three and outs. At the end of the first half the Bengals only had the ball for about 10 minutes. That of course means that the defense was on the field for about 20 minutes. At the half we were looking at a 10-7 game in which the Steelers were winning of course, but it was much closer than I expected. But all that time on the field caught up to the Bengals defense in the second half. The Bengals defense was tired and showed it in the fourth quarter by giving up 21 points and turning a close game into a blow out.
What went wrong?
1. Well obviously 5 punts in their first 6 possessions was a glaring issue. Our old friend Dick Lebau had a field day with our offensive line. Fitzpatrick, you know the mobile quarterback, was sacked 7 times. Imagine if Palmer was back there he would have been murdered. Timmons, Woodley, and Harrison took turns sacking the quarterback, dropping running backs for losses and causing havoc for the 6’2” quarterback. I can only hope that the shut Palmer down and don’t force him to take snaps behind that dreadful offensive line. I don’t want Palmer going into the hall of fame in pieces.
2. The Steelers played more physical. They came out looking to punch someone in the face, unfortunately that person ended up being Keith Rivers, one of the few people on this team I enjoy watching. Hines Ward did exactly what you want your receivers to do, he threw a block and hit Rivers so hard that Keith was out the rest of the game and was bleeding from his mouth. And I just found out this morning that Keith is out for the season with a broken jaw. It was a clean hit and a good hit, I can only hope that Chad and TJ and Chris will see that in their film watching and decide to try that sometime, but you know all about old dogs and new tricks. Besides that one play the Steelers looked like they wanted to hurt someone, every tackle looked like it hurt, where as the Bengals had to miss several tackles before grabbing a shoe or forcing someone out of bounds. The best hit I saw from the Bengals was when Cedric Benson lowered his head and popped the helmet of Polamalu. When Troy got up it was clear he was out of it, as he grabbed onto Townsends jersey and had to be helped off the field. My wife was very excited, after watching Polamalu push Chad down after the play she would call Polamalu names the rest of the game, and when he got TKOed she had some choice words for him of which I will share later.
3. Special teams blunders. We gave the Steelers a short field to work with at least 4 times with horrible punts, one of which was 15 yards!
4. Inconsistent running game. Sure Cedric Benson averaged 3.7, which I am sure is the highest game average this year, but were we able to run when we needed it? And did we run enough? No is the answer, we only rushed 14 times and I think it was mostly at the end of the game. You have to establish the run early and then work in play action to try and keep someone as smart as Dick LeBau honest.
What went right?
1. Cedric Benson did manage to average 3.7 yards. While that is good, he only rushed 14 times. The Bengals still need to try and run more often to keep the offense out there and rest their defense.
2. Rookies got some snaps. Pat Sims, Andre Caudwell, Jerome Simpson all saw pretty valuable time in the game. Caudwell looked great returning kicks and Sims looked just as good on the defensive line. Sims was getting penetration that the defensive line has not seen since Tim Krumrie.
3. Tried to involve Chris Henry more. Chris had several balls thrown his way which was nice to see, but he did not capitalize several times. He needs to shake off that rust and get his head in the game.
Quotes of the game.
1. “Cedric Benson replaces the ineffective Chris Perry.”
That was one of the announcers at the beginning of the game. I find this funny because it you could replace Chris Perry with Barry Sanders and would have just about the same result. This line is NOT blocking for anything, I would say they wouldn’t block for a million dollars, but they are all making more than that.
2. “Good to see Cedric Benson all lathered up.”
That was Rich Gannon talking, obviously, about Cedric Benson, but I still do not understand what in the hell he was talking about. Never in my life have I heard one man refer to another man as being lathered up. It might have been in “Brokeback Mountain,” but I never saw it.
3. “Take that Ponomo, you bitch.”
That was Jesy after Cedric Benson hit Troy POLAMALU into next week. It was a running joke the whole game how she could not/would not pronounce Troy’s last name correctly.
1. Special Team Blunders; 3.5
Covered, hell they had 4 horrible punts, that alone was enough to cover.
2. Play clock blunders; 2
Did not cover, it would seem that Marvin only likes to waste time outs and get delay of game penalties when the game is on the line, which it wasn’t. It was close at the half though, so a little surprise there.
3. Announcers calling Bengals players by the wrong name because they don’t care; 2
Did not cover, I was pleasantly surprised that the announcers not only called all Bengals players by the correct name, but did not really bash the Bengals either, refreshing.
Clearly I was wrong and I will be the first to admit it. I said that if Mike Zimmer could get this defense in the top 15 that we would have a playoff caliber team. That, of course, was when we had a top 10 offense as well. Going into the game the Bengals defense was ranked 16th, the highest it has been since Marvin has been here. Clearly signing Mike was a good call, not to say there have not been defensive lapses, but game by game I feel more confident in them. I would have been happy with a top 20 defense at the end of the year and it looks like Mike will deliver. My biggest concern is what happened this week. The defense looked great the first half, but they were on the field for 20 minutes and you could tell by the fourth quarter they were dead on their feet, hence the Steelers were able to throw 21 points on the board in 10 minutes. I can only hope that this off season they take the time to evaluate the offense that has been stagnant since the middle of last year and focus on drafting players we need and not the best available.
Anyone notice Steven Jackson run all over Dallas on Sunday? 25 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns, which is a 6.4 average. You know the same Steven Jackson we passed on twice to draft the “ineffective” Chris Perry. I’m just saying.
David Jones had a hard time catching Hines Ward?! Hines is a good receiver and a hell of a soldier, but I think that I am faster than he is. How is it that David Jones was not able to catch him? The more I watch David Jones, the more concerned I get.
1. Pat Sims. Was physical and was getting penetration, I want to see more of this guy.
2. Andre Caudwell. Looked great returning the ball.
3. Me. For watching that whole game.
4. Bengals fans. For not being afraid to boo a horrible team.
5. Cedric Benson. Running downhill and giving Troy Polamalu snot bubbles.
Well almost halfway through the season and the Bengals are an impressive 0-7. And although Houston did try to let Detroit win on Sunday by giving up 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Lions are still winless at 0-6. But 0-7 is still better, plus they beat the Bengals in pre-season. That number one draft pick that we are bound to screw up is looking better and better. Who Dey? Anybody.