AAARRRRGH! That was the sound of me yelling in a frustrated rage (I was a pirate in a past life). Watching Sundays game made we want to punch something really small and helpless in the face. One would think that I would have a hard time coming up with seven things about Sundays game that I liked but after 24 hours of thinking about it, that good old super-optimistic Bengals fan in me came back and started making me remember all of the good things, trying to reassure me that the Bengals can still win the Super Bowl if they go 15-1. Part of me may be delusional but I've always been a "glass half full" kind of guy. So, here we go.
Point One: The Passing Game
It turns out that the passing game didn't die last year, it was just on vacation. Carson Palmer threw for 345-yards and two touchdowns. He hooked up with Chad on 159 of those yards. He spread the ball around a lot, hitting Jermain Gresham for 25-yards and a touchdown, Terrell Owens for 53-yards and Jordan Shipley for 82-yards. There were some wrong routes and some off target throws from Palmer but those are the things that can be fixed. An anemic passing game is different though, those don't just go away very easily and usually takes some major roster changes to fix. That's what the Bengals did in the off season and so far, it seems as though it will pay off. I think the Bengals passing game is just going to get better. That's good news.
Point Two: Jermaine Gresham.... Again
Two plays come to mind when I think about Gresham's performance in Sunday's game. One of which was his touchdown in which it looked like he was being guarded by a midget who just slumped to the ground once the ball was in Gresham's hands. The other was when Gresham caught a pass about five yards away from the first down line. He was immediately tackled by two defenders but he somehow drove forward, dragging them with him, and stretched out, missing the first down line by mere inches. It was actually a more impressive display of his athleticism and power than any other play that I've seen from his so far. Gresham is going to be a difference maker this year for the Bengals offense... and he's only going to get better. Just watch.
Point Three: Jordan Shipley.... Again
Jordan Shipley didn't look quite as good as his white wide receiver counterpart but that doesn't mean he looked bad. Shipley had five catches for 82-yards including one hail mary play at the very end of the first half. In a crowd of much taller people, somehow Shipley, listed generously as 6' tall, managed to wrestle the ball away from everybody else. In another equally impressive play, he caught a pass almost at the same time as the defender covering him. They both seemed to be in possession of the ball. Once again, the much smaller Shipley won and helped the Bengals offense move the ball down the field. Just like Gresham, Shipley can only get better.
Point Four: Nugent Hits a 54-Yard Field Goal
I haven't really been a fan of Shayne Graham for a long time now. Much longer than most. I've always felt that, when push comes to shove, Graham is less likely to make a field goal when we really need him to. Obviously, the Ravens felt the same way this year. The kicking game was one of the major concerns I had coming into this season but Mike Nugent helped put me at ease. Nugent scored first for the Bengals on a 54-yard field goal that could have been good from 60-yards. That feat cannot be accomplished so easily. Here's to hoping he keeps it up.
Point Five: Penalties
The Bengals were one of the most penalized team this preseason. There were games that they couldn't move five yards without somebody getting called for holding, false start or off sides. Their penalties weren't good ones either, like the ones you commit to save a touchdown. No, they were stupid mental error penalties. Well, during their game against the Patriots, the Bengals didn't commit a penalty until the third quarter. While I would almost rather blame penalties for the Bengals first half offensive woes, I'm happy that they seemed to get all, or at least most, of their stupid penalties out of their system already.
Point Six: Chad Ochocinco gets 10,000
I have never had 10,000 anything. Coming into Sundays game, Ochocinco only needed 48-yards to be the 33rd NFL player to have 10,000 receiving yards. Well, he got his 48-yards plus another 100. He looked fast and his routes looked good. He and Carson seemed to be on the same page throughout most of the game and hopefully they can stay on the same page for the rest of the season. If the Bengals picked up TO to help open things up for Chad then TO did his job.
Extra Point: Second Half Offense
The Bengals offense looked bad in the first half, there is no denying that. But in the second half, they looked much better. Actually, no. They didn't look much better. They looked like a different team. I would be much more concerned about the future of this team if things were reversed. If the Bengals looked great in the first half and terrible in the second half, I would be terrified because that would be a sign of something that is seriously wrong. Hopefully, the Bengals non-existent offense in the first half was just a product of opening game jitters and the fact that it's really early in the season and the Bengals just needed to knock the rust off the old gears. If that's the case then there isn't an excuse for them to come into the Ravens game rolling the same way they did in the second half of the Patriots game. We shall see soon enough.