Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. After a 14-yard screen pass to Brian Leonard that pushed the Bengals offense to the New Orleans 37-yard line, the players ran to the line of scrimmage while Carson Palmer made a spiking motion. Tick. Tock. Still making the spiking motion, players were lining up, killing time off the clock when the Bengals finally called a timeout with eight seconds left.
Instead of having closer to 15 seconds, the Bengals lost needless time off the clock because no one used the team's remaining timeout. Better yet, why throw the football underneath for a limited gain to Brian Leonard when you have to go 51 yards in 22 seconds because you had to score a touchdown?
Asked about it after the game, Marvin Lewis said that he would "probably to do it over again, I would probably call timeout. But we were going to try and clock it. I was trying to preserve a timeout so we could throw the ball in the middle of the field." Lewis' explanation makes sense as he says that he had hoped to spike the football with around 12 seconds left. With a timeout remaining, the Bengals could still use the middle of the field, use the final timeout for a final play of the game in a more manageable non-hail mary play. Then again, why put yourself in that position with a dinky screen pass with a running back that picks up the tough yards but not a lot of yards?
"It didn’t work out," Lewis said. "We didn’t get set, and then Carson saw the guys not getting set. And they (officials) didn’t get the ball set real quick there for us there, obviously."
While running down the field, having a better feel for the game than Lewis, the question was asked what the team was thinking by waiting to use the timeout, rather than using it on Leonard's screen pass.
"I run the plays on the field and Marvin (Lewis) handles the timeouts. I just noticed it was taking a long time to get everybody set, so I went ahead and called that on my own.”
What? Well that's inspiring from our hundred-million dollar quarterback that was given the keys to the franchise. No, he said to Dad. The car started stalling before it stopped working on the side of the road. I can't be responsible for checking the gas gauge every 100 miles. Shesh.
A follow-up question asked if he expected Lewis to use the timeout sooner.
“I don’t worry about that. My job is to get us to the line of scrimmage and get the play called. I let him handle all of that stuff and I just try to get everybody in the right spots and lined up and get the play called. It took a while for them to spot the ball. I’m not sure what happened. Normally, it comes right in from the ref to the next ref, and the red in the middle of the field spots it. But that wasn’t the case, and I just decided to call a timeout there.”
This, my friends, is but another example of the failed leadership quality that was expected out of Palmer. While Palmer is more than willing to accept endless amounts of blame (honorable as that may be), the quarterback rarely leads the team in a united effort to put them on his backs into a position where he spends the press conference talking about winning the game, and not the talking points of "blame me".
Do you think the better quarterbacks in the game would run down the field, wondering what's going on with the spot, why players aren't in a position while time clicks off the clock without calling a timeout? No, they call the timeout, take responsibility for that action.
Or better yet, maybe Palmer argues with the play-calling and yells "you seriously want me to run a screen pass with 51 yards to go and 30 seconds left in the game? Bob, put the 'guess the play' hat away and let me take it from here." What's the worse that could happen? The Bengals lose a game?
Maybe it's a bit much to ask of Palmer. The truth isn't so much about the Bengals losing, or Palmer not leading the Bengals for a touchdown. What I can't stand is the deflection of responsibility, with phrases like "I don't worry about that" or "My job is..." These aren't the words of a leader, of a take-charge quarterback. These are words of defeat emanating from the one player that most players are supposed to look towards for leadership. And we wonder why we're 2-10 this year.