Today was the first time in recent memory that I sat down to watch a Bengals division game and did not get nervous from the first snap. Were there some things that happened today that give me pause? Were there some things that happened today that concern me going forward?
Of course there were. I don't like that Ed Reed made Chad Ochocinco cough the ball up again today. That bothers me. I credit Chad for continuing his theme of improving his yards after catch, but when it comes at the cost of possessing the ball it can be a detriment. Chad has been great at making things happen after catching the ball all year long, and it usually happens the same way. He will catch the ball on the left side of the field, turn to his left and spin off a defender and take off like a bat down the field. It is usually a thing of beauty. Got to keep better control of the ball while he's running, but I'm sure he doesn't need to hear that from me.
Let's do some breakdown after the jump, shall we?
The loss of Chris Henry (possibly for the year, unofficially) is unfortunate to be sure. The young man has done a terrific job getting his life back on track and now he likely has a clear schedule for the next eight or nine months. I do believe that he has turned the corner in his personal life, and now he has a great opportunity to prove that to the rest of the world. Now that I've completed my Dr. Phil impression, on the field the lack of Slim 15 will definitely make a difference.
I would fully expect to see the debut of Jerome Simpson dressed for action next week, and hopefully he will make a difference. The solid play of Laveranues Coles and the emergence of Andre Caldwell makes the loss of Henry much less imposing, but regardless a hole now exists where production is going to have to be generated.
On a side note, I apologize for my role in Henry's injury. I picked him up and started him this week on one of my fantasy teams. I now know better and will not do that again. Please don't hurt me.
Looking at different areas of today's game, how about that secondary, folks? Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph continue to play out of their minds on the field of fake grass. Each contributed one interception of Joe Flacco today along with particularly stellar play from one Jonathan Joseph. Joseph was Deion Sanders-esque out there today. Seeing him laying on the field and limping to the sideline absolutely terrified me, it was great to see him back out later on in the game.
Cedric Benson continues to be a man possessed when he has a football in his hand. Running for 117 yards against Baltimore today made him the first running back since Ricky Williams to gash Baltimore for greater than 100 yards in consecutive games (thanks, Joe Reedy!). Williams ran for over a buck in consecutive games over two seasons, 2002-2003 against the Ravens. To the best of my knowledge, Benson is now the only running back to do it twice in one season. Fantasy owners continue to laud him with praise and more than likely bouquets of flowers for the point totals he brings.
One of the most impressive plays I've seen this year was the exchange between Kyries Hebert and Rey Maualuga to down a Kevin Huber punt inside the one. In the event you missed that one, you may want to keep an eye on ESPN later on tonight. I'm sure that one will be seen again. Huber bounced the punt inside the five and Hebert was right there waiting for it. He jumped backward preventing the ball from going into the end zone and threw the ball into the waiting arms of one Rey Maualuga who caught the ball and stood on the half-yard line. It was a thing of beauty.
The team also continues to miss Antwan Odom much less than expected. Three consecutive sacks to end the Ravens' last prayer at trying to put points on the board was pretty impressive if you ask this blogger. Had my children not been napping upstairs I would have likely shook the windows all the way down my parents' street.
That's pretty much all I have to say about today's game at the moment. I'm going to go and eat now, my dad just finished a fish fry. Enjoy it this week, ladies and gentlemen. One more biggie on the horizon next week at Pittsburgh before things get any easier. I'm looking forward to reading what the national media says about our boys in Orange and Black this week, though. For the Bengals to dominate the first half like that after Baltimore laid the beatdown on Denver that they did last week is a huge statement.
Needless to say, I enjoyed today's game very very much. Thanks again, Bengals.
Ever-increasingly optmistically yours,
A Pragmatic Bengals Fan