The Bengals beat the Jets with R-U-N, Run, Run, Run

  Plays Run Pass
1st Half 28 15 13
2nd Half 34 26 8
Total 63* 41 21
* One sack not accounted for making 63

You have to give the Bengals credit. When down by 13 points in the second half, the Bengals ran, ran, ran utilizing the play-action in the right spots. Kenny Watson's 21 second-half carries is a big reason the offense kept sustaining long drives forcing the Jets offense to be victim of a reinvigorating Bengals defense late in the game. The Bengals dominated time of possession 33:54-26:06, converted 70% (7 of 10) of their third downs and outscored the Jets 21-8 in the fourth quarter.

How good was Kenny Watson Sunday? The power and burst he used through the line is something we've not seen in awhile. He played well enough, not to just backup Rudi, but challenge him for starts. The offensive line was tremendous -- especially the run blocking of Levi Jones. Nice rebound. Jeremi Johnson made body crippling blocks at the point of attack. The Bengals offense shifted philosophy from pass first, to rush first. And it was a tremendous job for the offense to swallow its pride and do what they could to win. They didn't panic, like they usually do, falling behind early. Down by two touchdowns, the offense stuck to the rush and the rewards were plentiful.

Well done by the coaches to adjust their line of thinking. Well done by the offense to execute. Well done by the defense to rise when challenged. It wasn't just the offense that won this game. It was the late effort by the Bengals defense to seal the victory (detailed below). While the first half was awful, the Bengals did exactly what they needed to win this game in the second half.

The Last Three Rush TD: The last time a Bengals running back rushed for three touchdowns in a game was the 2004 season (1/02/05) when Rudi Johnson scored three times against the Philadelphia Eagles in game #16.

Passer Trends: There's still concern with the Bengals pass defense. Even though Chad Pennington gift wrapped an interception to help us win the game, he still recorded a 111.2 passer rating. It's the third straight game that the opposing quarterback recorded a 100+ passer rating -- fourth this season. The last three:

QB Rating
T.Brady 115.0
D.Huard 112.1
C.Pennington 111.2

But one trend broken: Heading into Sunday, the Bengals have allowed the opposing team's feature back to gain over 100 yards in four straight games. Thomas Jones finished the game with 67 yards rushing. The Jets are the first team the Bengals defense held to under 100 yards rushing (84) with the longest going 12 yards.

A First. The Bengals picked up 12 first downs on the ground. That's equal to the last three games combined.

Crazy, crazy Interpretation. This is how different Sunday's game was to anything we've seen this season. Combined, Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery combined for 14 receptions for 193 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Kenny Watson and DeDe Dorsey combined for 38 rush attempts for 153 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Hello, Mr. Watson. In what has to be the most intriguing adjustment I've seen this offense make in some time, the Bengals, being down 23-10, adjusted. They didn't throw nine times to every one draw play on third and long. No, it wasn't characteristic of known commodities. Coming out of the half-time gates, the offense ran six times on the first seven plays for 36 yards rushing. Why is this odd? We've never really seen this team stick to the running game when down by more than a touchdown -- much less, 13 points. To do so is heresy in the code of modern Bengals football.

Running a total of 11 times (56 yards rushing) on the 14-play touchdown drive during the team's opening half possession, the Bengals suddenly found themselves in the midst of a momentum shift. This shift was rewarded by the football gods by actually sticking to the running game. Praise, the run. A breakdown of Watson's runs.

Outside Left Middle Outside Right
12-72 6-13 (TD) 11-47 (2 TD)

More on run, run Bengals. Self-absorbing ALERT: I left pretty satisfied that my belief DeDe Dorsey could be a good running back on the roster when he was initially with the Bengals during the 2006 preseason proved somewhat true. Dorsey continued the running game's successes while giving Watson a breather picking up 27 yards rushing including a jock-strapping spin move deep in the backfield. Wow. He didn't have the yards, but he did great fulfilling the role of backup running back Sunday. It also helps to have an offensive line blocking that well.

Chad Johnson's missed Touchdown opportunity
Third-and-one at the Jets two-yard line with 5:50 in the first quarter: Palmer took a three-step drop and arched a fading pass aimed for the back left pylon. Chad had the ball judged, almost confident that he'd make the easy catch. Next concern. Feet. You could tell his mind was clearly on positioning his feet. When the ball was within his grasp, his body went limp with three yards to spare before the out-of-bounds line. The ball slipped through his hands and his feet became irrelevant. Bengals kick the field goal. Jets 7-3. This is a catch that we've seen Chad make routinely.

On the Jets Second Possession. The first thing that stands out is that the Jets ran a 15-play, 60-yard drive that took over nine minutes to run. The second thing that stands out is that the Bengals defense only allows a field goal. That's sucking it up. I don't care who you are.

Sometimes two is better than one. Sometimes. The Jets were in the middle of their longest drive of the game. The situation is third-and-one at the Cincinnati 46-yard line. Thomas Jones ran on three of the past four plays. So you can only assume they're going to run. The Jets run right. The play was disrupted by Anthony Schlegel's mad-diving abandonment through the line taking on the full back opening a lane for Bryan Robinson -- who clutched on Jones' legs. Landon Johnson lined up the running back and Jones falls. Stopping the Jets on third down -- while in reflection, wasn't that big of a deal -- was a work of three parties. Schlegel clears out the lead blocker, Robinson slowed the running back and Landon finished off Jones. Without one of those three parties, the Bengals aren't given a chance at a turnover on down.

But what are the Bengals defense known as? Awful. So we see, and will see, more fourth and short attempts than against any other defense in the league until that impression fades. The situation is fourth down. Distance and location is the same. Jets line up with standard I-formation, strong side to the right with #89-Cotchery motioning two yards outside the tight end's hip. The play was a standard run inside the right guard. Justin Smith, blocked by the left tackle, ran down the line of scrimmage like he was nothing. Smith made the initial hit while Landon and Schlegel fell a split second short of making the stop. Unfortunately, the Jets got the first down. Even though I was suspect they made the conversion at the time. Well, I'm still suspect.

Palmer's interception. After the Jets scored a field goal on their 15-play drive, the Bengals came out with a rush and pass. On the pass, the Bengals lined up single-back, three-wide receiver formation with Jeremi Johnson in the left slot and T.J. Houshmandzadeh lined up far right. Houshmandzadeh ran a five-yard in-route. The pass was very standard and the route was very Houshmandzadeh-like. This play works nine times out of ten. This is the one. Without any firm possession, the football hot-potatoed between both players when #31-Poteat came up with the ball. Interception. As they say, #31-Poteat just wanted it more.

Crediting Leon Hall. Let's give credit to Leon Hall -- whose been noticeably scorched this season. The rookie, lined up on Laveranues Coles on third-and-six at the Cincinnati 6-yard line, made a plan fulfilling preseason expectations. The touch pass floated towards the front left pylon. The route was simple. Run to the goal line and jump and fight for the underthrown ball. Leon Hall, never biting like so many corners on this play, had inside position spotting the football one-yard short of the goal line. Hall jumped up and extended his left hand making contact and forcing the incomplete. Jets kick a field goal to go up 13-3. Fantastic defensive play by Hall to prevent the touchdown.

Why was Hall's play important? The obvious lack of increased scoring is the known. What happened afterwards started shifting, albeit subtlety, the game's momentum. After that Jets possession, the Bengals would outscore New York, 35-18. On the ensuing possession, the Bengals ran eight times on 11 plays for 76 yards ending with a Kenny Watson three-yard touchdown. The team only passed three times -- including a 29-yard pass to Chad and a 19-yard pass to T.J. that picked up a first down on third-and-11.

The 2:08 First Half Drive.. After Shayne Graham booted a kickoff through the endzone (no, seriously), the Jets offense takes the field with the Bengals down 13-10. After a 12-yard pass to #16-Smith on a slant (Landon was too late to cut off the route and Deltha was playing off), the two-minute warning sounded. Here's the frustrating thing. The Jets were moving slowly. There was no way they'd score a touchdown with the time remaining after completing passes of three and 15 yards with sprinkles of incompletes. The Jets even ran the ball with 1:11 left in the half at the Cincinnati 42-yard line. I don't know if they were giving up or aligning themselves for a field goal. Whatever the reason, after Madieu Williams' delay of game penalty netting the Jets five easy yards, the Jets ran their final play of the half.

The situation was third-and-fourth at the Cincinnati 36-yard line with :59 seconds left in the half. Chad Pennington, in shotgun, had bunch formation to the right with Laveranues Coles on the left. At the snap, Coles ran over the middle about three yards from the line of scrimmage. It was designed to be a short play. The Bengals defense proved otherwise. The pass was bad and Coles was forced to came back catching the football one yard behind the line of scrimmage. Deltha O'Neal and Johnathan Joseph had Coles tracked for, at the most, two-three yard gain setting up a 50+ field goal attempt. The Bengals defense proved otherwise. Joseph made first contact, but the weak effort ended with Joseph sliding off Coles. O'Neal's effort was nonexistent. He put his head down and expecting a lazy-man's tackle. The thing about receivers in the NFL is that they're good. But a 10-year old playing pee-wee football would have avoided both with their lackadaisical effort. Long story short, Coles scores on a 36-yard touchdown that should have never happened. It was the type of play, by both defenders, that earned the Bengals the right to be called Bungles.

After the Jets drove 80 yards on eight plays in 1:19 inside the two minute warning to score a touchdown, things went loopy. After a quick swing pass to Kenny Watson picking up nine yards, the Bengals called a timeout with 30 seconds left. At the Cincinnati 35-yard line, Houshmandzadeh picked up 11 yards on a short pass. Rather than running out of bounds, Houshmandzadeh runs up-field forcing the Bengals to take timeout #2. With 20 seconds left, Palmer completed a quick pass to Holt for 12 yards. Tick, tick, tick. Palmer spikes the ball with five seconds left. Spike doesn't count. The booth called an official review -- for some ungodly reason -- easily upholding the reception. So the team gets lined up when the officials stopped the game again to confirm down, distance and time. The whistle blows ticking off the eight seconds remaining in the half, Palmer, with pressure, chucks the ball into the ground about two yards short of the receiver. That was the best they came up with? Since the pass never made it to the line of scrimmage, it's considered intentional grounding which penalizes the offense with a ten-second run off. Half over. That was the end of the Bengals horrible first half.

The secondary. How many times did you see the Bengals secondary chuck Jets receivers at the line of scrimmage? How many mis-tackles did we see by the Bengals secondary?

The Jets offense would play their final relevant act in the show on their first possession in the second half. After opening the half with a field goal, the Jets offense went punt, fumble, punt, interception, irrelevant touchdown, even more pointless two-point conversion. Did any even notice they went for the conversion?

After T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught the three-yard touchdown pass -- enabled by play-action -- the Bengals defense got tough. After an incomplete pass (pressure forced the early pass) and a Thomas Jones five-yard run, Chad Pennington stood in shotgun on third-and-five at the Jets 35-yard line. With Robert Geathers collapsing the pocket, Pennington was forced to rollout to the right. Bryan Robinson stood tall in front of Pennington preventing any attempt at a pass. So he ran and Robinson missed. Michael Myers and Justin Smith finished off Pennington for a short two-yard gain. Jets punt.

On the next possession, the Bengals offense ran three straight times for 13 yards. Then incomplete pass, two-yard DeDe Dorsey run and defensive pass interference on #24-Revis set up the Bengals go-ahead touchdown. The situation was first-and-ten at the Jets 19-yard line. Glenn Holt, who's shown that can take that #3 spot that everyone covets, lines up left in three-wide formation with T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the slot to the right. Holt runs a post and picks up 18 yards. Kenny Watson scores on the next play after a one-yard run. The Bengals never lost the lead.

The Fumble. The Jets offense was moving the ball in 2-3 yard chunks. Pretty pedestrian. The situation was third-and-eight at the Cincinnati 49-yard line. Pennington lined up in shotgun with two receivers flanked left and right. Nick Mangold, still helping Ohio teams win football games, fired a snap to an unsuspecting Pennington and Domata Peko went wild with the recovered fumble in hand. Bengals football.

The Bengals ran the ball five times on the ensuing seven-play drive ending with a two-yard Kenny Watson touchdown. The drive included a brilliantly called nine-yard shovel pass. Watson scored his third rushing touchdown of the afternoon on the next play.

The Defense Shines Twice. Watson's touchdown gave the Bengals an eight-point advantage. It awarded the team with relaxed breathing needing to defend against a touchdown rather than a field goal. And we know, with this defense, one play can change everything. Following the score, the Jets went three and out -- thanks to Nedu Ndukwe's sack on third down. Right on. The Bengals offense, with 4:19 left, went into kill the clock mode running the ball six straight times punting with 1:51 left in the game. After allowing the Jets offense to pick up 28 yards on four plays -- again, very pedestrian considering the situation -- the Bengals defense shined with the game's two defensive plays of the game to seal the victory.

The Sack. On second-and-five with 1:07 left in the game at the Jets 40-yard line, Pennington, in shotgun, drops back. John Thornton makes a swim move to his outside that transitions the Jets blocking. The guard, having to prepare for Justin Smith's stunt, let Thornton go. The left tackle had no chance. Pennington, with Geathers forcing him up into the pocket, ran into Thornton. Sack.

The Interception. The result of the sack was big. Not simply for the yards lost, but the clock kept ticking, :48, :47, snap. They lost over 15 seconds because of the sack. In shotgun, Pennington, having the out routes available to him on the drive, threw on a deep out pass for Coles to his left. Johnathan Joseph saw what was developing and jumped the pass. No one touched him on the return giving the Bengals a 38-23 lead. And the win.

Other notables.

  • Anthony Schlegel had his best game as a Bengal. Perhaps of his career.
  • Quickly, the team is making me realize that moving Robert Geathers to outside linebacker might not be a bad move. But the pressure he gave Pennington was constantly there.
  • The team should work hard this season and off-season to sign Justin Smith. Likely, won't happen. His pass rushing isn't always there. But his ability to defend the rush has always been his strongest attribute. By far, he's the team's best rush defender on the line.
  • Glenn Holt's effort.
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