This is the second straight game where an injury, or injuries, took precedence during the after-hours discussion.
It was second-and-12 as the Browns lined up in I-formation for their second play from scrimmage. David Pollack lined up four-five yards deep, between the right offensive guard and tackle. At the snap, the full back led to the left and Reuben Droughns followed. At the moment of impact, Pollack lowered his head and his neck pushed back into his body; he dropped like an anchor in the Ocean.
Pollack laid flat on his stomach moving his legs like in a panic. His arms remained in place; like temporarily losing the ability to use your arms. Geoff Hobson called it a "neck" injury Sunday night. He was taken to University Hospital for "additional tests".
That wasn't it. Dexter Jackson severely rolled his ankle and Rich Braham suffered a deep knee bruise.
Marvin says, all will "miss time".
ALIGNED FOR TED WASHINGTON?
Was it because Ted Washington was on the inside that the team put Andrew Whitworth at guard rather than Eric Steinbach? I only ask because I would think keeping Steinbach at guard would keep all but one position at 100% with your starters. If you move Steinbach to left tackle, he gives up a few pounds and Whitworth is definitely behind Steinbach, in terms of experience and talent, at guard. However, Eric is such a talent. Steinbach is a pro-bowl alternate and has filled in at tackle and center with great results. And Whitworth took a lot of snaps at guard during the pre-season, so it wasn't like he was unprepared. But I ask, was Whitworth at guard because of size? Big Ted, listed at 365 pounds, went up against Whitworth (339) rather than Steinbach (290) -- closing the weight gap by nearly 50 pounds.
But in the end, we found the solution of limiting Washington's presence - no huddle. When the Bengals offense went no-huddle, Washington had to leave the game because he couldn't keep up.
There's no doubt Chad's creativity when it comes to touchdown celebrations. He's done it all. But my nod, for now at least, for best celebration is Kelley Washington's squirrel dance. I can't explain it. Seriously. Crazy.
Washington had a semi-coming out party. Having lost T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the second straight game, Washington filled in nicely. While Henry played the slot, it was Washington that played opposite of Chad Johnson.
On first-and-ten at the Cleveland 22-yard line, Palmer tossed the football to Washington for the first score of the game. Third-and-four, with 6:41 left in the first quarter, Palmer passed it to Washington about three-yards short of the first. One fake move on Baxter and Washington found the first down. With 0:35 left in the first half, Palmer found Washington for 18-yards giving Cincinnati a realistic shot at an easy field goal. On third-and-eight, on Cincinnati's own 44-yard line after half-time, Washington hauled down an 18-yard pass for another first down.
Great game by Washington stepping up for Housh.
WHAT ABOUT THE GUY THAT ACTUALLY REPLACED HOUSH?
Chris Henry, on three-wide sets, played a lot of slot - his familiar role. He caught a 17-yard pass converting a third-and-nine, a 43-yard pass beautifully thrown by Palmer and a 38-yard pass that set up a field goal eventually putting the Bengals up 20-3. Henry finished with 113-receiving yards on five receptions.
Palmer was definitely looking for #15. Of his 40 pass attempts, twelve went to Chris Henry.
I USUALLY DON'T SECOND GUESS....
If I second guess a call, as a fan, it doesn't mean my way is any better; I'm hardly the one that comes up with these plays. And most second-guessing comes after a high-risk attempt to put the game away fails. With 2:07 left in the game, Carson Palmer calls a timeout on third-and-seven. If the Bengals run the ball, the clock ticks down to the two-minute warning. After that, you punt and let your stingy and opportunistic defense put the nail in the coffin.
Let me set this up a little. Bengals get the ball with 13:06 left in the fourth quarter. Rudi Johnson, on that drive, ran four times for 46-yards and a touchdown. On the next possession, following another Tab Perry end around for two-yards, Rudi ran three times for 24 yards and another touchdown. On the Bengals last drive where the team didn't kneel, Rudi ran up the middle for no gain and to the right for three-yards setting up a third-and-seven with 2:07 left in the game.
I knew, when the Bengals called a timeout, they would pass. I pleaded; I begged and wrote in my notebook, "PLEASE DON'T PASS". Palmer drops back and throws to his left. Not only did Chad Johnson get rocked shredding his chin, Palmer threw an interception to Leigh Bodden who took it back 35-yards.
I'm not the Tracy Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals; I haven't played in the NFL... yet. I'm like Alan Cutler; seen enough in my lifetime to know what successful strategies usually work.
In the end, it really didn't matter; the Bengals were already up 34-10. I just hope it's not a trend.
Last week, Tab Perry recorded 92 all-purpose yards. He had 37 yards receiving, four yards rushing and 21 return yards against the Browns; 62-all purpose yards. Perry quietly contributes to this team each week.
Unfortunately, towards the end of the game, as the Browns showed on-side but kicked deep, Perry ran towards the end-zone to pick it up. When he picked the ball up at the two-yard line, the Browns coverage was on him. After the play, Perry hopped off the field putting no weight on his right leg. Geoff Hobson reports "he was walking around in the locker room and indicated he was OK."
PALMER THROWS FOR 352
Carson Palmer's 352 passing yards was the second highest of his career. In 2004, against Baltimore, Palmer passed for 382 yards. However, a lot of people will probably remember the four sacks in the morning.
In 2005, Palmer was sacked 19 times all season, but only recorded one game with 40 pass attempts or more.
After Levi Jones was placed on the inactive list, Eric Steinbach moved to left tackle and rookie Andrew Whitworth made his first NFL start at left guard; it was changed.
But it wasn't entirely the offensive line's fault for all four sacks. On one, Palmer decides to rollout to the right feeling pressure from behind while Willie Anderson is keeping the pocket alive (i.e. keeping his man on the outside). Willie was just minding his own business, owning the defensive end, when Palmer ran directly into the end. Another was a coverage sack and the other two I chalk up as inexperience by two young linemen.
All-in-all, Palmer's knee was heavily tested today. He attempted 40 passes, was sacked four times and knocked down at least three times after the pass. Not once did you remember of his black January winter.
DEFENSE... a long section
- Remember when John Clayton said that if the Bengals played with the lead, that Justin Smith would likely get more sacks? The Bengals played with the lead for 57:27 of the game and Smith had zero sacks.
- Since Sam Adams has joined the team, the feature back on the opposing team is averaging 3.2 yards per attempt. (Larry Johnson 17-68, Reuben Droughns 14-32). In 2005, the Bengals defense allowed 4.3 yards per attempt by the opposition -- not just the feature back. How many times did you see Sam Adams attracting double teams and STILL not move?
- Rashad Jeanty, who replaced David Pollack early in the game, recorded only one tackle. Caleb Miller seems like he's blossoming as a coverage linebacker. John Thornton knocked down a pass, recovered a fumble and had three tackles.
Chad says if someone beats him physically or out prepares him, he'd checked off a "yes" on who can cover #85. I still think Chad "won" Sunday, no doubt; he caught 6 passes for 78 yards with a score. But boy was Johnson beat up? After scoring his first and only touchdown, he feel to one knee on the sidelines as trainers looked at his shoulder. Bodden was aggressive at the line of scrimmage throwing off the rhythm of some passing plays. threw a perfect pass into Johnson's hands into the end-zone and Bodden disrupted the play. Bodden intercepted a pass intended for Johnson. On that play, Brian Russell put a serious hit on Chad knocking his helmet off and opening up his chin.
Chad is one tough guy. He may need 50 gallons of IV fluid per quarter, but he can take a shot, fall hard on his shoulder, and sell out for a pass for this team. He'll wake up sore tomorrow, but his toughness Sunday was impressive.
HOOK ME UP, I'LL RETURN THE FAVOR
Early in the game, Thornton tipped a pass that Brian Simmons intercepted. You have to wonder if Thornton said to Simmons on the way back to the sideline, "You owe me one." On the play John Thornton recovered a fumble, Brian Simmons flew threw the offensive line making contact with Charlie Frye well before the handoff. Frye, obviously not prepared to get hit, drops the ball and Thornton takes the fumble. But you had to wonder if Brian Simmons said, "you welcome".
- Chris Henry not only led the team with 113-receiving yards, but his blocking was phenomenal.
- Stacey Andrews shows his versatility getting some snaps at tight end during "big" packages. Surprisingly, he didn't go out for pass patterns.
- Kellen Winslow, the guy that has proven nothing in the NFL but feels like he has the clout to speak trash, caught four passes for 42-yards.
WITH ALL THAT KNOWN...
The make-shift offensive line did a stellar job run blocking. Eric Ghiaciuc, Andrew Whitworth, and Stacey Andrews all got playing time. Willie Anderson and Bobbie Williams dominated the right side. On 26-carries, Rudi Johnson rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnson averaged 6.4 yards per rush behind Willie Anderson and Bobbie Williams; including both touchdowns. Johnson averaged 4.6 yards per rush from the center (both Braham and Ghiaciuc) to Whitworth. From Eric Steinbach on out (tight end and maybe receiver), Johnson ran ten times for 66 yards. All around, this offensive line had a tremendous day.
Rudi had five plays of 10 yards or more rushing.
The big test will come against Pittsburgh. They are a team that's actually won at least one time this year with a very talented defense. The Steelers offense will likely have Big Ben back in the lineup. If we win next week, it could set the stage for one of the greatest seasons in Bengals history. If we lose next week, we'll be reminded of the crummy teams we've played so far.