As many of you are pointing out in our recent flashback, detailing Cincinnati's 24-21 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many of Cincinnati's failures in 2010 were paper-thin lines drawn in the sand that easily went against the Bengals whereas in 2009, fate choose them for greater things -- like the second first round playoff loss in five seasons. Granted, the team appeared like a better squad than their 12-loss record seemed to indicate. And granted, much of this team's failures were self-imposed; which is a little more logical than fictional arguments of fate determining a football game that has no baring on universal matters.
After enjoying a relaxing week following a tough loss against the Buccaneers, the Bengals flew to Atlanta -- actually, they rode inside a plane -- which was quickly flagged as being a possible blowout; not unlike a pitcher having a no-hitter and every sports outlet tells you about it just before he gives up a hit in the sixth inning. At Half Time, the Bengals offense posted 143 yards while Atlanta, leading 24-3, poured it on with 299 yards of offense. Matt Ryan was toeing the line of perfection with a 155.5 passer rating, completing 13 of 16 passes for 189 yards passing and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Roddy White caught six of those passes for 157 yards receiving and a score while running back Michael Turner averaged 7.3 yards/rush on 12 carries.
Here's how the first half possession went:
|4||Touchdown (43 Yards)||Punt|
|5||Touchdown||Missed Field Goal|
The benefits of being destroyed so quickly is that it frees up your afternoon to plan the rest of the day accordingly. Perhaps some much needed yard work. You'd be surprised at how well yards looked in Cincinnati during the 90s. Maybe have a grill out with the family, even inviting the in-laws because it makes the wife happy. Take the kids to afternoon of fun at Kings Island. Do something that allows you to lay your head on your feather pillow at night, thinking to yourself, today was a productive day; just don't go to sleep with the Bengals on your mind.
The funny thing is, if you did that during week seven last year, you'd have felt like the world's biggest idiot. At least for a little while.
Nugent's 33-Yard Field Goal: After Adam Jones returned the opening kickoff to the Bengals 26-yard line to start the second half, we were treated to a glimpse of old Carson Palmer, completing seven of eight passes for 54 yards, stalling just inside the red zone for an easy Mike Nugent 33-yard field goal. The Bengals defense forced a punt on Atlanta's ensuing possession, setting up the stage for another Carson Palmer to accurately guide precision missiles to wide receivers, completing six straight passes for 93 yards passing, capped by the final play of the drive.
Owens' Touchdown: With 3:47 left in the third quarter, the Bengals line up on Atlanta's 19-yard line. Palmer fakes the handoff to Bernard Scott, who follows the entire offensive line shifting to the right, except for Andrew Whitworth of course. After the fake, Palmer twists around and hits Terrell Owens on the left for a completed wide receiver screen. Owens avoided the first tackle, thanks to Andrew Whitworth feloniously evaporating a poor defensive back, easily jogging into the endzone for a score. Bengals cut the deficit by ten points on their first two possessions and even our God in heaven says Palmer "is playing out of his goddamn mind."
Hall's Interception: During Atlanta's ensuing possession, Tank Johnson disrupted the point of attack just enough for Chris Crocker to limit Michael Turner's run for two yards. Matt Ryan's second down pass was intended for Michael Johnson, running a vertical route down the left sidelines. Leon Hall turned a tick too late towards the ball, as the pass hits him in the stomach. Obviously with the air knocked out of his stomach, Hall stayed on the ground for a few moments before third down. Most likely seeing Hall slowly getting up, the Falcons tried to do the same thing. Jenkins ran a vertical route down the left sidelines with Hall covering. Ryan looks over the middle with five Bengals pass rushers closing in, tries to ease the pass down the left sidelines. This time Hall was prepared, holding inside position and turning around to catch the football at its highest point. Interception. Bengals have the ball.
Jordan Shipley's 64-Yard Touchdown: Under two minutes remain in the third quarter, with 12 yards needed for a first down on the Bengals 36-yard line. Terrell Owens flanks wide right with Shipley in the slot. Palmer takes the snap and gladly watches eight Falcon defenders rush. You could almost hear the team's franchise quarterback mock, "here, kitty, kitty." A hot read was called with Shipley being the target. The rookie hooks around two yards past the line of scrimmage, catches the football and, "whoa. What is this?" It's a touchdown, waiting just for you young man." Crossing the field and running down the left sidelines, Shipley is joined by an escort of Terrell Owens, who blocks a defender into the endzone, allowing Shipley to score a touchdown, reducing Cincinnati's deficit to five points.
Adam Jones' Forced Fumble And Touchdown: With over a minute left in the third quarter, the Bengals are foaming with momentum. Defensive stop. Three and out. Anything from the defense to stall the Falcons offense once more. Atlanta must have felt it, like the buffalo, wisely choosing a high percentage pass to get a little momentum back. At Cincinnati's 46-yard line, following an Eric Weems 55-yard kickoff return, Ryan takes a three-step drop and targets his favorite receiver towards the sidelines on the right. White catches the football after a quick-out pattern near the 38-yard line. Jones, forcing White to turn upfield, grips the football with both hands and yanks the football (along with White's towel) free. Jones recovers the football and sprints into the endzone to give the Bengals a 25-24 lead (failed two-point conversion) after a 22-point third quarter.
Repercussion: Now the game would eventually be lost. After Atlanta responded with a touchdown on an 11-yard touchdown reception by Roddy White, Cedric Benson helped seal the Falcon win. with 9:46 left in the game while the Bengals threatened, moving the football 36 yards to the Falcons 39-yard line.
Single-back, double tight end formation. With 9:46 left in the game, Palmer hands off to Benson, who shifts to the left. No penetration from the Falcons defenders. Possibly a good gain approaching. Around the 40-yard line, Benson squeezes the football in his left hand and like a bar of soap, the ball flips out of Benson's grip and into the hands of Falcons defensive back Brian Williams. Michael Turner would go on to score a touchdown to give the Falcons a two-touchdown lead with just over four minutes left in the game.