This is becoming the hardest thing I do all week. There has been six straight losses, all of which the Bengals were the cause of their own demise. If it wasn't interceptions, it was fumbles and if it wasn't fumbles, it was allowing the opposing offense to score at will at the worst possible time. In six consecutive losses, the Bengals lost by a total of 33 points. That's one more point than the Bengals scored in the Atlanta game. Depressing.
This week I'm going back to the seven things that I liked during the game. It's going to be tough. Here we go.
Point One: Chad Plays Like He'll Never Play Again
On the heals of a one-catch game at home against the Steelers, Chad Ochocinco leads the Bengals in receiving by playing with more heart and effort than I've seen come from him in a long time. He was diving all over the field and making spectacular catches. On his touchdown catch, Ochocinco was almost leaning out of bounds at a 45-degree angle, making a spectacular catch and giving the Bengals a chance to come back and win the game. Unfortunately they didn't take advantage.
Point Two: Pass Protection
In a game against one of the best pass rushing defensive end duos in the NFL, one could have been almost certain that Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis would terrorize the Bengals offensive line and have Carson Palmer running for his life on every passing down. That's not what happened at all. In fact, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Dennis Roland, playing for injured Andre Smith, kept Freeney and Mathis at bay until the very end of the game. The pass protection was good all night long and Palmer looked comfortable in the pocket for the first time in a while.
Point Three: Fake Punt With No Punter
There are few plays in professional football that are more exhilarating than a fake punt, especially when there is not an actual punter on the field. On a fourth and short play, the Bengals decided that it was in their best interest to go for the first in a fairly unorthodox way. They lined up in a punt formation in a hurry so the Colts wouldn't have time to realize that something was amiss - there was no punter on the field. The deepest man in the backfield was Brian Leonard and when the snap went directly to him and when he got it, he proceeded to run the ball 42 yards. Good call.
The deadly wide receiver duo was held to just eight catches for 71 yards and no touchdowns. Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall were all over the two receivers and gave the defensive line some extra time to try to pressure Peyton Manning. A healthy Hall and Joseph duo is still tough to beat, even if they have a 2-7 record.
Point Five: Defensive Rookies Contribute
For a team that has not been able to pressure any quarterback all season long, sacking Peyton Manning in Indianapolis is a pretty big deal. What's an even bigger deal is the fact that the two sacks came from rookies. Rookie defensive end Carlos Dunlap recorded his first sack of his career and rookie defensive lineman shared a sack with linebacker Brandon Johnson. It's nice to see that the young defensive players are producing. It makes next season look a little brighter.
Point Six: Jermaine Gresham
Technically, Gresham's fumble was the final nail in the coffin for the Bengals on Sunday. However, I find it hard to fault a guy for putting in the maximum amount of effort. If Gresham fumbled because he failed to tuck the ball properly or if he just dropped it I would be much more upset about it but I can't be upset at him for trying as hard as he could to fight for as many extra yards that he could get to help his team move the ball down the field. Next time, he may want to go down before the ball is stripped away from him but I won't fault a guy for making a mistake when he's working as hard as he can.
Extra Point: Bengals Defense Looked Like the 2009 Defense For the First Time This Season
For the first time this season, the Bengals defense looked like they were a top five defense again. They held the greatest active quarterback in the NFL and a sure fire hall of famer to 185 yards passing and no touchdowns and held the colts to just 76 yards rushing with one touchdown. They waited to play one of the toughest offenses in the NFL to show up. Unfortunately, the offense didn't show up until the second half when it was already too late.
Such is life of the Bengals and we poor poor fans.