Blame who you wish, the Bengals offense failed to sustain drives and the Bengals defense failed to stop the sustaining drives of the Falcons offense. It's that simple. What does this loss mean for the team's playoff hopes?
Well now the Bengals are a full game behind the Baltimore Ravens. I just don't see Pittsburgh turning it around enough to jump us in the standings. If there was ever a game which would save our season - yes, I thought that against Carolina but now don't - it would be this weekend's date against the Ravens. Beat them, we tie in the standings and win the tie-breaker essentially putting us in first place.
For those of you that fear the season is lost, it's not. We've lost two of our three games against NFC teams - only makes a difference if Baltimore and Cincinnati split their season and Baltimore beats the teams we lost to. It does come into play eventually, but the season is still too young to worry about it.
If the team can put this behind them, then obviously we'll be fine. If they can't, especially with Baltimore this week, then we're in trouble. Playoff aspirations really hinges on winning this weekend. If we don't win, then we're starting to depend on other teams. But the season is still young - tell yourself that enough times and you'll eventually believe it.
Did you see...
- Don't you love seeing Eric Ghiaciuc snap the ball with the opposing defense off-sides? It's nice the young center is following the footsteps of the legendary Rich Braham. I heard the other day on a radio station, "well, why don't we just throw deep instead of taking a knee?" I'm sure we could, but the offense isn't ready to continue the play. Once Palmer gets the snapped ball, with the offensive linemen not ready to protect Palmer, we're just asking for trouble. The defense, usually, goes at the snap of the ball where the offense goes on the snap count. The defense would be ready for the play where the offense isn't. Some hall of fame quarterbacks have taken advantage of a free play, but with the protection problems we have anyway, I doubt it would be beneficial.
- OK, I'm convinced Andrew Whitworth is good. On a play early in the game, Whitworth buried the Falcons' best rusher of the day (Kerney).
- The speed by Robert Geathers to force Michael Vick to run laterally was amazing. Vick never had the option to run up-field and lost a few yards running out of bounds. Caleb Miller did the same later in the game.
- How many tackles did Landon Johnson miss?
- The Bengals have to be one of the worst screen passing teams in the league.
On third downs, the Bengals passed every time. Their average "to-go" distance was 7.4 yards - which included a 16 yarder. Only twice did the Bengals have less than five yards to go - the first two third down situations of the game. Palmer completed six of nine third down passes for 53 yards converting only four of ten third downs for firsts - sacked on the last attempt of the game on a three-man rush. Palmer threw it Houshmandzadeh's way four times, Chris Henry and Chad Johnson's way twice each and Reggie Kelly's way once.
The Falcons converted seven of their first 10 third down situations - including situations with 16 and nine yards to go. Michael Vick completed six of eight passes on third down for 105 yards. This included completions of 29, 26, 21 and 13. His final five attempts on third downs led to first downs. Where was the defense?
I've often defended the NFL referees simply because I believe the league installs so many rules, that it's virtually impossible to keep up with the action and all the penalties that could be called. There's such attention on the refs that if they make one call wrong, they are chastised, hung up and left for dead. Whether or not that's the case, the evidence grows that the refs can't handle the overwhelming responsibility -- it's not their fault, a hunter can only aim at one deer at a time. This is why a ref should be installed in the booth that over-ride ridiculous penalties and call those that weren't called. He would be the god ref; without "BJ", or related position, on the back of his jersey. It's a radical idea, I know. But depending on refs to make the right call is a trust that's long been gone. This would be included on the reformed instant replay procedure.
Here are some notes about the refs I jotted down.
- The call that Michael Jenkins caught an 18-yard pass down the right sideline. His feet were not in. Sure, Marvin should have challenged it, but it should have been called right.
- No pass interference against T.J. on an early third down. Houshmandzadeh ran to the first down marker as Palmer released the pass. Keith Brooking was on T.J. before the pass got there.
- No intentional grounding on Vick.
- Palmer got hit low by Brooking, no call. Troy Aikman took note asking where the penalty was.
- Roughing the passer on Ahmad Brooks. A mili-second after passing the ball, Brooks made a perfect form tackle on Vick. It wasn't late hit. It was roughing the passer; driving into the ground. Again, Aikman said, "I see the flag on the field, but no penalty" after seeing the replay.