Greetings again, fellow fans of this team which knocks us down year in and year out. It's a "Hard Knock" life indeed for us Bengals fans. As I will be doing weekly, here is my game recap. I apologize for the tardiness of my weekly feature, but between my younger brother being in the hospital yesterday and my twelve-plus hour schedule today I didn't have time until recently to sit down and do my rewatch.
I'm going to do something a little different this week for a couple of reasons. I'm giving a detailed rundown of the first quarter partly because most of the bad has already been discussed here today and partly because as I was writing notes I just kept noticing things that I thought bore mention.
As such, after the jump I will begin from the first series and take a fairly in-depth look at all the happenings of the first quarter of football in last night's "Dress Rehearsal," otherwise known as Cincinnati Bengals Fake Game Number Three.
First off, I'd just like to say one thing. Wow. What a start we saw out of our boys last night. Holding the Rams to a three-and-out rather convincingly led to the first punt return touchdown we have seen since one Peter Warrick (wow, that's another Bengals jersey I forgot I had!) six years ago courtesy of one Mr. Quan Cosby. That first series and the punt return T.D. were absolutely electrifying. Great pressure on D collapsing the pocket on all three downs combined with a great move by Cosby to split two Rams en route to his moment in the sun couldn't have been much more exciting to watch. Within the first minute and twenty seconds we were up by seven after kicking the ball off to start the game.
So what happened after that?! After such a promising start, what could have possibly happened to cause us fanly men and women such consternation and turmoil? Well, at one point the offense took the field for one thing, but again...we'll get back to that later. Let's start looking at specific snaps after Cosby's brilliant return touchdown.
At the beginning of the Rams' second drive, Michael Johnson beat his man and got a hand (attached to one of those long, long arms!) on the ball as Kyle Boller was starting his throw, resulting in a badly underthrown ball that was nearly intercepted. Fantastic! Oh, wait, what's that you say? Tank Johnson jumped offside and wasn't able to get back out of the neutral zone before the snap? D'oh!
-This has been duly noted by my associates, but the Rams anticipated the Bengals' improved pass rush and started short three-step drops early and used them often. You can note that the first two-step drop came with 12:04 remaining in the first quarter on a quick slant to the left wideout. The pass was complete for a first down if I remember correctly, if not it was a yard shy.
-11:12 remaining in the first. My question is this...is Robert Geathers back? STUDLY.
-10:42 remaining: Stout run defense. Quick and hard to the holes, stuffing the runner. Steven Jackson at halfback, no less.
-10:24: Zimmer brings Dhani on a blitz and wrecks Boller's timing. I believe the throw sailed high.
-10:14: Ouch...Roy Williams gets his ankles broken trying to cover a wideout. One of the first really weak moments I've seen out of him so far this preseason.
-Rams methodically moving the ball through dink and dunk passes mixed in with short runs, which leads to...
-Samkon Gado, fantasy hero of yesteryear, prances into the endzone with 8:20 remaining in quarter one. Watching this once more I saw that Rey Maualuga read the play perfectly and flew into the runner's lane at mach one but was nudged out by the left tackle. There was no one behind him in the lane to pick him up and it resulted in a St. Louis touchdown. From what I can tell, Chindedum Ndukwe should have been the man who had the best opportunity to pick up after Maualuga was blocked out as he was the furthest back, but he read the play badly and was on the other side of the defense.
After the PAT and the kickoff, the Bengals lined up on offense for the first time with 8:12 remaining in the quarter. A heavy blitz from the Rams resulted in the first Bengals offensive play resulting in a sack. It wasn't a matter of the offensive line being worked, however. Two blitzers came from the right side of the defense, and Cedric Benson was the only man in the backfield to pick it up. He rightly chose the inside man blitzing (to interrupt the shorter route to the quarterback, the inside route) and pancaked him. The only other person on that side of the line was Chase Coffman, who ran his seven or eight yard route. I would be interested to see the playcall there and find out if Coffman was the primary receiver or if someone else was designed to get the ball, but either way Coffman should have seen the blitz coming and hung back to throw a block. CHASE!!!
-7:32 remaining...are you KIDDING ME?! A botched snap promptly lets Little Animal make his first big play as a pro in Ohio by recovering a fumble. Rewatching and rewatching, it appears to clearly be JTO's miscue that put the ball on the carpet. Rams football.
-7:30, Bengals D back on the field on their own 20. First snap...run is stuffed. Good start, boys.
-Now again with 6:10 remaining we see an ultra-quick two step slant. The Bengals have been bringing solid heat all day long at this point and it appears that the Rams are tired of seeing their quarterback on the turf.
-Fast forward to 4:55 remaining...are you kidding me with a shovel pass score? As if Bratkowski didn't call that three times a game already...anyway. Shovel pass to Gado for his second score of the day on a short gain.
Bengals have the ball again, and on the first snap Dan Coats just got taken to school. On a short bus. Man, did he get beat. Rams' DE James Hall on the TFL. 4:45 left in the quarter.
-With 4:15 remaining, a very solid run by Cedric Benson off left tackle. Very solid blocking by Whitworth and Jeremi Johnson. A very well-executed play.
-Fast forward again to 3:24 remaining. The Rams show blitz and the Bengals' O-line holds up well for JTO to complete a very nice 23-yard completion to Andre Caldwell. Of course, after showing blitz the Rams dropped everyone into coverage and only rushed their front three.
-Another sack. Cedric Benson made the wrong decision there, he went to his right to back up Anthony Collins on his block and while he was over there the middle was wide open for a licking on our QB. Just not a good decision on Benson's part. Two minutes and forty-seven ticks remain.
-2:14 Benson with a big fifteen yard run, yeah!!! Oh wait...I see what you did there, Kyle Cook. A blatent hold in the middle spoils one of the best runs we've had tonight.
-1:58 Oh, man. Chris Long schools Dan Coats, bad night for Coats. A quick brush-aside and he's immediately on O'Sullivan to swat his pass into the FieldTurf.
-1:53 Anthony Collins gets beat badly and JTO just barely gets the ball off again.
-1:15 Kevin Huber plants a beauty of a punt near the left sideline.
As of right now our first-team offense has moved the ball a grand total of twenty-eight yards. Bravissimo.
1:10 remaining: If Boller could keep the ball down instead of sailing every other throw they would have twice as many completions right now. Very good pass defense for Jonathan Joseph, but with a better thow it would have been a first down.
:56.6: Roy Williams. Bringing the lumber. Big Time. Okay Roy, you're forgiven for looking like an average Joe earlier in coverage.
With 14.4 seconds remaining, Jonathan Joseph makes another great play in coverage causing an incompletion that winds up ending the quarter.
That's all I had in me tonight after writing down that many details and clock ticks, folks. Hopefully I've painted a good picture for all of you to gain a little better understanding of what went right and what went wrong in the first quarter of our "Dress Rehearsal without the best player on our team dressing." Let me know your thoughts in the comment section and please also let me know what you would like to see more or less of in my features.
Admittedly more disturbed but still I remain,
A Pragmatic Bengals Fan