Whether you blame the Bengals offensive slow start or the team's general defensive disaster that allowed 38 points, the Bengals as a whole looked far more unprepared compared to their their counterparts. It wasn't until midway through the second quarter that Cincinnati's offense picked up three first downs and by that time, the Patriots had taken nearly a 17-point lead.
It wasn't all for naught, though. There were positives. Am I referring to the overall product? No. The defense allowed four drives of 50 yards or more. Special teams play was just as suspect, allowing a touchdown on a kickoff to open the second half. Offensively, the Bengals went punt, punt, fumble, punt and interception to start the season. This doesn't look like the product of a team vying for the playoffs in 2010, does it? Not to be so epically pessimistic after 1/16th of the season is completed or anything.
On the other hand, even though the Bengals started so poorly through the first five drives of the season, they would go on to achieve plenty of success. In the first three possessions of the second half, the Bengals offense would score three touchdowns, averaging 12.6 plays and 76.3 yards per drive.
Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco each had tremendous second half performances, enabled by the fact the Bengals were down 28 points by the time they touched the ball in the second half. Chad recorded 10 receptions for 136 yards receiving and a touchdown. Carson Palmer completed 22 of 31 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns, computing to a 111.6 passer rating in the second half. While the numbers are great, and the Bengals overall passing offense really blossomed in the second half, one must account that the Patriots are reverting to prevent-like coverages.
Still, it's encouraging to see that the Bengals passing offense can take off if need be. With guys like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens combining for 19 receptions for 212 yards receiving, or two rookies (Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham) combining for 11 receptions for 107 yards receiving, it must bring about optimism with the team's overall passing offense.
However, even with all of that, Palmer's pick-six with about five minutes left in the first half, allowed the Patriots to take a 24-0 lead, putting the Bengals into an impossible position for any possible comeback while on the road, at a stadium that hasn't seen the home team lose on opening weekend for some time. The opening second half kickoff return by the Patriots pushed the Bengals into a 28-point deficit that they'd be unable to recover from.
This team, especially the defense, obviously has a lot to work on, ranging from a passing defense that watched an incredibly efficient Tom Brady march down the field to a rush defense that allowed a 5.1 yard-per-rush average on 23 carries. And it's the defense that will quickly need to get themselves righted, with so many talented offenses they'll be facing this year.