First things first. Welcome to the party, Antwan Odom.
Five sacks from Odom today. Let me say that once again. Five. Sacks. From Antwan Odom. The man beat his guy like a drum all day long. Two of them in particular came at critical times for the Bengals to stop a Packer drive that could have potentially changed today's outcome, which is a BENGALS WIN! Antwan Odom, my hat is off to you sir.
I also have to mention another player before the jump, congratulations to Cedric Benson. 141 yards on 29 carries is a good day in anyone's book, especially how some of those runs came. The man was on a mission today, and the one run that comes to mind in particular was on a third-and-short late in the game. The run-blocking scheme on the left side of the line completely broke down and Benson made three guys miss as he broke to the outside and made the first down plus a good five yards.
Hit the jump!
Before we get into the good stuff, let's talk about what the team absolutely needs to improve on to defend Paul Brown Stadium against the hated Steelers next week.
-Penalties. Penalties, penalties, penalties. While I think umpire Ed "Guns" Hochuli was trying to set a new NFL record for throwing a weighted piece of yellow cloth on the field, regardless there were far, far too many mistakes on offense, mainly on the line. Andrew Whitworth was flagged multiple times, and once again Chad Ochocinco was called for a false start. The mental mistakes have got to stop, which brings me to my next point.
-The interceptions. I'll admit I got ahead of myself when I called for O'Sullivan in the open thread, but I was very frustrated. Two absolutely miserable throws by Palmer ended up putting 14 points on the Green Bay scoreboard. Had those throws been executed properly or just not thrown at all, the game would have been in the bag and we wouldn't have all been chewing our finger nails off at the end of the game. Things worked out due to a tremendous run game and Antwan Odom morphing into He-Man, Master of the Universe before our eyes, but were it not for those factors we would be 0-2 right now rather than 1-1. We all knew it was going to take some time for Palmer to get his rhythm back, but the last seconds ticked off that clock as the game clock approached quadruple zeroes today. Pittsburgh comes to town on Sunday, and everyone has to be perfect.
On to the good, shall we?
-I've already highlighted the stars of the game in taking a quick look at Cedric Benson and Antwan Odom. Were it not for Chris Johnson's huge performance in Tennessee's losing effort at home against Houston (15 carries for 193 yards and 2 scores? Are you kidding me?), you would likely be looking at the NFL's offensive and defensive players of the week repsectively. Absolutely wonderful performances by both players.
-Once again allow me to admit my man-crush on Kevin Huber. Through the course of two games he has proven to be an invaluable addition to this team. He is consistently pinning the other team inside their own twenty yard line, and tonight when he pinned them on their own fifteen (aided by a ten-yard penalty, given) while punting the ball from inside his own ten yard line was a thing of beauty to behold. He about kicked that ball into the stratosphere.
-As a whole the entire special teams unit did a great job again today. How refreshing is it to have a legitimate NFL-caliber punt return man? Quan Cosby is going to pop one off and take it to the house. Soon. Misstep at the end of the game notwithstanding (I mean seriously, can someone go for the ball?), the teams unit did very, very well. Bravo.
-How about the offensive line's run blocking? Bringing Dennis Roland in as a third tackle/sixth lineman on power running plays may be my favorite playcall. Would we be safe to call that package the new Jurassic Line? This is what I've been waiting for since Richie Braham went down on that fateful day in 2006. We lined it up, the whole world knew we were going to run the ball and we did it anyway. Check that, we did it successfully. It was almost 2005-like at times. I've missed that attitude where a lineman could say to his opposing man "Hey, we're going to run over my left shoulder" and the defense was powerless to stop it. Today felt like a move toward returning to that mindset and exectution.
In the end, what matters the most is that the Bengals went to Lambeau Field and won for the first time in their history today. After two weeks the Cincinnati Bengals are 1-1. Granted it didn't happen in the manner many of us thought it would with the loss coming at the hands of the Denver Broncos and winning today's game against the Green Bay Packers, but the result is the same. The momentum must carry through next weekend, but let's stay positive and think happy Who-Dey thoughts.
Lastly, it's Steeler Week. Make some noise, Bengal Nation.
Sincerely and excitedly,
A Pragmatic Bengals Fan