Carson Palmer has connected on a few big plays in the first half today, completing passes of 78 and 42 yards to Batman and Robin. In the last 4 minutes of the half, the Bengals offense was emphasizing the big play and Palmer's timing with Terrell Owens seemed to finally be improving.
The Browns blocked a field goal, though, with just over a minute to play and benefited from a stupid rule that says "you're now allowed to hit wide receivers in the back, at least, not very hard to try to knock the ball out of the receivers hands." After that, the Browns took a failed shot at the end zone - but only after attempting an uncalled illegal substitution - and settled for a 33 yard field goal to take a 13-10 lead at halftime.
At this point, I'm most upset about officiating in this game. I don't think the Bengals have been bad in any other phase of the game. But Terrell Owens was interfered with in the endzone. That's a textbook call, and the officials missed it. Arguable 4 points off the board. The personal foul call on Chinedum Ndukwe was laughable, although that might just be a rule that the officials have to call. I'm just really confused by some of the calls in this game - as I was with some of the late hit calls last week.
Besides that, I'm not sure what to make of the first half of this game. The passing offense is better and the running offense is non-existent. The offensive line has picked it up in the pass blocking department, but can't open holes or the running backs can't make the right reads quickly enough.
Carson Palmer has made a few mistakes (not running for the first down preceding the field goal and one really awful throw on the same play), but has played good football. The defense has been touch and go. I think the Bengals are very obviously the better team in this game, and if the team on the whole can get a little more consistent - particularly on first down, they win the game.
The Bengals are even in turnovers, are losing time of possession by almost 2 minutes, have outgained the browns be a negligible amount.