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I wonder... the morning after.

When you measure yourself up against teams that have similar -- if not better -- records, you get a gauge on how good/bad you are. Beating the Steelers felt great, but they are now only 2-5. We saw Carolina get beat by a Dallas team that everyone has already written off for the season. Cincinnati got beat by a winless team and were destroyed by an annually successful Patriots team.

The Bengals didn't play to win Sunday. They gave up way too many third down and longs and lost the section of the play book that included #32. Palmer hasn't been on the same page as Chad Johnson on many passes. There's a lot of reasons they lost -- playing to win wasn't one.

I wonder...

...if Palmer should be playing. OK, yea, he should. But we keep hearing that Palmer isn't 100% and won't be until January. We have a powerful offensive line for the run and two running backs that could carry the load. Why not up the production on the running game? At least this would limit the amount of times Palmer is hit in midair and dropped hard to the ground. I honestly believe Bob Bratkowski thinks he's playing Madden on the Xbox and puts the boring uneventful running game to the back page of the playbook.

Rudi Johnson agrees.

"A lot of games we lose is for that reason. You line up and play football. Its real simple. We make it real complicated.

"We should have beaten this team like the other teams we lost to. I don't know what to say. Whenever my number is called, I'm going to play hard, for four quarters, 60 minutes. Today, I only played for one quarter."

Willie Anderson agrees.

"You've got to run right at them. It's a joke, who they were putting in front of me. When you put who you put in front of me, or you put who you put in front of Bobbie (Williams) or (Eric) Steinbach and say you can't run against us, that's a joke. It's not the Ravens."

The last rush attempt by Rudi was with six minutes left in the third quarter. He ran five times on the second possession in the second half and five times on the team's first possession of the game -- that's 10 carries on two drives. That means, of the Bengals ten total drives, Rudi only had two rush attempts on the other eight drives.

...if we really should blame the players on this loss. Sure, the players must execute and they didn't. But execution only goes so far compared to preparation. Not only did the offense, once again, go predictable, but the Bengals defense was utterly unprepared to defend against the pass. Vick completed 20 of 29 passes for almost 300 yards and three touchdowns. I don't want to take anything away from Atlanta, but this was a prime example of being out-coached.

...if you noticed that Justin Smith finished with 12 tackles. Holy smokes! When was the last time one of our defensive ends had double-digit tackles? Caleb Miller, Ahmad Brooks and Landon Johnson combined for 28 tackles -- not bad from the backup linebacker group.

...if you don't mind that I'm going back to the lack of a running game. You'll notice that on time of possession. The Bengals offense had the ball for 22 minutes -- all game. Look at the fourth quarter... the Atlanta Falcons had the ball for 12:25. Even that is a sure-loss in Madden 2007.

...Chris Perry is back. Well, obviously he is. Add up his yards rushing, yards receiving and yards on kickoff return, Perry totaled 111 yards.

Bengals air some complaints about abandoning the run [Enquirer]
Rudi upset that he didn't get ball [DDN]
Frustrated players lament departure from run [Post]
Bengals struggle to get a grip on elusive Vick [Columbus Dispatch]
Bengals sunk by execution, strategy errors [Columbus Dispatch]
Bengals turn away from run offense [Columbus Dispatch]
Bengals DBs Vick to their stomachs in defeat [Enquirer]
Henry returns with TD catch [Post]
Hall enjoys final word [Post]
Rare sack of Vick yields a little joy [DDN]
Vick, victory elude Bengals [Enquirer]
'Ocho Cinco' goes for seis [Enquirer]
Angst devours offense [Bengals.com]
Vick vaporizes Bengals [Bengals.com]
In any language, Falcons win [Bengals.com]
Frustrated Bengals Vicktimized [Bengals.com]
Vick upstages Johnson, Bengals [Mercury News]
Vick is showing a flair for air [Baltimore Sun]