We have to give some love to Cedric Benson and the Bengals offensive line; which we largely have limited to blurbs here and there in our post-game "coverage". And no, Shaun Rogers didn't beat us, largely contained on double teams with runs outside the guards. Many of our runs had a pulling lineman (or two), knocking out the edge defender, or sealing the inside linebacker. We pitched, countered, ran up the gut. Power O returned, with Bobbie Williams blocking down into Shaun Rogers, Stacy Andrews working inside linebackers and Nate Livings either kicking out the end, or an outside linebacker. Even Daniel Coats made blocks, hitting undersized safeties, or whomever Livings doesn't pick up. First man across your face, they'll tell you.
Benson's rushing performance by the quarter
|1st Q||2nd Q||3rd Q||4th Q|
|7 - 65||15 - 53||4 - 11||12 - 42|
For the first time this season, the Bengals were resolved to the run the ball. Successfully. Even though Benson and Chris Perry are insane recollections for a guy named Fingerling (32 is 23 backwards!), Cedric came full circle with a badly timed fumble on the tail end of a 46-yard rush (that reference was only in distinction with losing a fumble... that's what us bloggers call, over-reaching).
Even so, the Browns picked up a first down after the recovery, went run, run, pass that fell one yard short of the first down marker. Convinced that the mighty Bengals tend to struggle defending short yardage situations, the Browns line up to go for it on fourth and one. As if an omen, or a seance were echoed after the Bengals were greeted with Eric Steinbach on the cover of the Browns program guide, the former Bengals guard false starts and the Browns are forced to punt on fourth-and-six. Who needs Steinbach? We have Livings!
It was the Cedric Benson, James Johnson show, before just being the Benson show (were exclusively talking offense, otherwise it would be the "It was the Cedric Benson, James Johnson, Leon Hall show before just being the Leon Hall kicked more ass than Leonidas show"). First, Johnson. Bengals have third-and-4 at their own 17-yard line with 0:31 left in the first quarter. I tend to shout at the television on third down, "DO NOT CALL A SHOVEL PASS." So the Bengals called a shovel pass, to James Johnson, with 4 yards to go. Johnson "catches" the shovel, and picks up 15 yards. First down. OK, so the shovel pass can work; validating this stupid play for future use. We'll keep shouting it. Something to do with seances.
We're still on the same drive.
The situation is third-and-11 at the Cincinnati-31 yard line with 14:27 left in the second quarter. Typically, I underline the words
shit punt on long third down conversion scenarios. Fitzpatrick receives the snap in shotgun, quickly looks around and checks down to James Johnson about 5-6 yards short of the first down marker. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was in the area and made a critical "I'm getting in your way" block on the closest Browns defender, springing Johnson free to pick up 16 yards and the first down.
We're still on the same drive.
The situation is third-and-four, at the Cleveland 47-yard line with 12:19 left in the second quarter. Typically, I write before the play, "Houshmandzadeh catches underneath crossing pattern for a first down." Nope. Bengals pitched the ball to James Johnson to the right, who turned the corner with excellent blocking on the edges, and picks up 12 yards on the ground. First down.
Freaking unpredictable, these Bengals are. We're still on the same drive.
Four of the next six plays, Cedric Benson picks up eight yards on the ground, while Ryan Fitzpatrick recovers a fumbled shotgun snap, excusing past Browns defensive players blinded by Crazy Legs' speed while Fitzpatrick lowers the boom for a seven-yard scramble and a first down. Then, on third-and-seven at Cleveland 20-yard line with 8:08 left in the half, Ryan Fitzpatrick takes the shotgun snap, and lofts a perfect pass to Chris Henry towards the back right pylon. Much like his touchdown against the Redskins, Henry laid his hands out for a beautiful over-the-shoulder reception.
Bengals lead 14-0, and in terms of scoring, this game is over.
In the fourth quarter, Cedric Benson ran the ball 12 times out of the Bengals 17 offensive plays in the quarter that consumed 10:24. Twelve times. Ten minutes, 24 seconds. He still averaged 3.5 yards per rush, knowing that the Browns were stacking the box fully aware that Benson would get the ball to kill the clock. It's not like Ryan Fitzpatrick's five completes (on nine attempts) and 55 yards passing convinced them otherwise.