CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Halfback Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with Chris Pressley #36 after scoring a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the season opener at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Bengals came out on the field against the Browns on Sunday and played like the better team throughout the majority of the game. Yes there were some scary moments in the second and third quarter and after Dalton left the game, but the Bengals still got it done.
There was a lot to like and a few things not to like on Sunday, but here are the seven things that stood out to me the most.
|Point One: Quarterbacks Beware|
An entire season of Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson eating up quarterbacks from the end with Geno Atkins pressuring from the middle. Who could ask for more? When Dunlap was in, he looked impressing and Johnson was in the backfield throughout much of the game. And it was only the first game. By mid-season, if these two guys can stay healthy, they're going to be great.
|Point Two: Benson Has the Right Attitude|
Which kind of running back would you rather have: a guy who completely understands that he needs to share the ball and that splitting carries is the right thing, or a running back who wants the ball on every play of every game all season. I want the second one. Benson is tough and he's hungry and I have a feeling that he's going to have a good season. I know that his touchdown was in junk-time on Sunday but that doesn't change the fact that he scored, does it?
|Point Three: The Bengals are Learning How to Use Gresham|
Jermaine Gresham, being an extremely talented tight end, is going to be Andy Dalton's best friend. Unfortunately, during Gresham's rookie season, he wasn't really utilized the way he could have been, as a red zone mismatch from hell and to stretch the field. However, with Jay Gruden now calling the shots, I have a feeling that Gresham is going to get used the way he should. He was matched up against T.J. Ward, a safety seven inches shorter than him in the red zone and what happened? Gresham caught a touchdown pass. He was used to stretch the field and he caught a 22-yard pass.
With Dalton and Gruden, Gresham is going to have a good year and career as a Bengals tight end.
|Point Four: Howard was a Great Acquisition|
In his debut regular season game as a Cincinnati Bengal Thomas Howard had eight tackles, two of which were for a loss. He was a huge reason that the Browns weren't able to get anything going in the second half, which allowed the Bengals win the game. Rey Maualuga looked good in the middle and Manny Lawson didn't play too bad either. When Keith Rivers comes back, they'll have Maualuga, Howard, Lawson, Brandon Johnson and Rivers. That's a pretty solid group of linebackers.
|Point Five: Boling Will be a Regular Starter by the End of the Season|
Yes, Boling only started on Sunday because Bobbie Williams was suspended and if that hadn't happened, Boling would have likely watched the game on the bench. However, Boling played well, allowing only one quarterback hit. By the end of the season, there is no question in my mind that Boling will be a regular starter on the offensive line and it won't be because of injuries or suspensions. Now, whether he starts at left guard for Nate Livings or on the right for Williams, I don't know. Either way, I think the line would be better.
|Point Six: The Bengals Won the Game. The Browns Didn't Lose It.|
Yeah, the Browns committed like 300 penalties for over 20,000 yards. Yes, the Browns made a lot of mistakes and the national media has basically stated that the Bengals didn't win the game, but the Browns lost it. I call BS. There's no doubt it was an ugly game, but what did anybody expect from two rebuilding teams entering the first game of the season after the lockout?
I guess they forgot that the Bengals defense held the Browns to just three points throughout the entire second half and that they Bengals defense allowed two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
|Extra Point: Bengals Win a Division Game. Steelers Lose a Division Game|
Yeah. That's awesome.