First off, a classic.
Benson has 36 carries? He doesn't care. He'll just run it down your throat... again... and again... and again. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis followed the script as it was written in regards to the team's running backs. If Benson is healthy, Benson plays. And boy did he. If you exclude November 15, when he left early because of an injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the last three games that Cedric Benson has started, he's averaged 35.7 rush attempts for 138.7 yards rushing per game.
|Benson broken down by quarter against Detroit|
But if one thought crossed your mind, I'll bet it was the same as mine. With 8:15 left in the game, Shayne Graham converted a 23-yard field goal to take a 23-7 lead. Benson had 31 carries at this point. After Tom Nelson recorded his first career interception, it seemed to make more sense putting Larry Johnson in to finish the game, especially since this being the first game Benson returns from injury. In the five rush attempts that followed, Benson picked up a combined four yards rushing.
I'll accept that the Bengals haven't necessarily played the greatest offenses in the past three weeks, which has helped their defensive numbers. However, they've kept opposing offenses to under 100 yards rushing in eight straight games, and ten of the season's 12 games. No offense has scored more than 30 and the only team to score more than Green Bay's 24 points in week two are the Houston Texans, who scored 28 on October 18.
Furthermore, the team's pass defense keeps improving. Through the first seven games, the Bengals pass defense allowed 253.3 yards passing per game. In the five games since, they've improved that average by 100 yards. Since the team's week eight bye week, the Bengals defense has allowed 153.0 yards passing per game.
Paging Andre Caldwell, paging Andre Caldwell. You home? Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer threw a first down pass to Andre Caldwell with 6:11 left in the third quarter. This was the first, and what would be the last, time that Caldwell had a pass thrown his way on offense. This isn't really the first time he's disappeared.
Since recording six receptions for 57 yards in a 28-17 loss to the Houston Texans, Caldwell has caught 15 passes in the past six games for 125 yards receiving.
Not to kick a dead horse because kicking a dead horse actually hurts your shins. I've praised the Bengals for their newly discovered winning formula of running the football and playing great defense. But I'm also not immune or ignorant of Carson Palmer's struggles this year. Instead on harping on a quarterback that just wins football games, there's a few notable struggles that Palmer has been dealing with this year.
- ...has thrown three touchdowns and three interceptions in the past five games.
- ...only threw for two touchdowns in the month of November.
- ...has only thrown one touchdown in the second-half in the past seven games.
- ...hasn't thrown for 300 yards since December 30, 2007 -- a streak of 16 games.
Then again, Palmer just wins football games. I guess that's important.
All of my life, the part I've loved most about football is the trenches. For the longest time, my favorite Bengals player was Willie Anderson. So when Dennis Roland goes into motion, I have this half-baked grin on my face. What a beautiful sight.