My FIVE Stars of the Game (in no order)
- Caleb Miller: 14 tackles, one pass deflection and one fumble recovery.
- Kevin Kaesviharn: 11 tackles, two sacks, one pass deflection and one interception in the end-zone. Note: two sacks came on third down forcing Saints to punt.
- Chad Johnson: six receptions for 190 yards and three touchdowns. Had three 40+ yard receptions.
- Rudi Johnson: carried 27 times for 111 yards. Six runs came late in the fourth quarter killing the clock from 4:18 to the two minute warning with the score 31-16.
- Ethan Kilmer: picked off Drew Brees pass and returned it 52 yards for the touchdown. This was the dagger-in-the-heart play that guaranteed the victory.
I gave you the five stars. Now you select who should win player of the game in the poll on the right.
IT’S OCHO OR NADA
Take away Chad Johnson and the Bengals receivers – T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry – caught four passes for 39 yards. Reggie Kelly caught one pass for 32 yards. It’s not that the other receivers didn’t do much; it’s just that Ocho has that much Mojo baby!
YOUR EYES MAY DECIEVE YOU DANYA-SON.
It really depends on the defensive call whether you should look at the quarterback or not in coverage. On second-and-eight at the Saints’ 15-yard line, Mark Simoneau dropped back in zone coverage. Palmer dropped back and saw T.J. Houshmandzadeh in man coverage. T.J. slanted in and Palmer, still thinking man coverage, threw to his receiver. Problem is, Simoneau was tracking the route and picked the pass killing the Bengals scoring opportunity. What made this play so successful for the linebacker was keeping his eyes on Palmer’s head.
On third-and-two with 10:34 left in the game, I’m thinking run. Rudi Johnson trots off the field and Palmer sets up in shotgun -- further proving I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about. At the snap, Palmer drifted towards the front of the pocket when he suddenly stopped and ripped the pass left. Chad Johnson ran about ten yards up then out. The cornerback followed Chad but started watching Palmer during the out route when Chad flipped around threw his "I’m freaking open" hand up in the air and ran up-field. Palmer gladly threw the 60-yard pass breaking a ten-ten tie. Even massive leg cramps couldn’t stop Chad.
On first-and-goal from the Cincinnati eight-yard line, Drew Brees dropped back and tried to lead Devery Henderson to the back of the end-zone. Madieu Williams watched Brees and remained in front of the receiver. Brees either didn’t see him or felt the force flow strong with him by making a horrible decision throwing directly to Williams for the interception.
OK, WHAT CITY ARE WE IN?
Third-and-seven at the New Orleans 45-yard line with 10:11 left in the third quarter, Palmer attempts to convert the third down to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The pass was off – nearly impossible. But as T.J. went down to make the attempt, a defender came up from behind and T.J.’s head collided with the defender’s body. Houshmandzadeh remained on the ground for a moment. Shesh. T.J. just can’t catch a break. He was O.K.
TAKE THAT JOHN TAYLOR!
I’ll never forget John Taylor catching a 10-yard pass from Joe Montana with 34 seconds left in the game scoring the eventual game winner -- you know the game I'm talking about. This time it was Cincinnati that made history. Johnson recorded the most yards receiving in back-to-back games in NFL history beating out, you guessed it, John Taylor.
Chad Johnson, 450 yards
John Taylor, 448 yards
Jerry Rice, 442
Take that 49ers fans!
WHAT IS IT ABOUT HIM?
Sometimes Kevin Kaesviharn scares the hell out of me. But true to form, K.K. makes a difference. His two sacks came on third down and New Orleans was forced to punt both times. He intercepted his third pass this season in the Bengals end-zone.
It was second-and-goal at the Cincinnati six-yard line with 17 seconds left in the first half. Brees dropped back and felt the force flow so strong with Campbell that two defenders couldn't possibly stop the Jedi tight end. Brees tried and Kevin Kaesviharn picked the pass in the end-zone stopping a sure scoring opportunity and preserving the Bengals 10-7 lead going into half-time.
Kaesviharn finished with 11 tackles for the game. Wow.
LOOK AT TRENDS
The Bengals defense was five yards short of allowing 600 for the day. But look at the "results" from the Saints drives in between touchdowns: Punt, Interception, Fumble, Interception, Punt, Punt, Field Goal, Punt and Interception. The Bengals defense may make you age five years a quarter and double the chain smokers in the Queen City, but the defense got the results Sunday.
SHORT DRIVES USES LESS GAS
The Bengals had one drive that lasted longer than six plays. It was a twelve play drive after Williams’ interception that only netted a field goal.
YEA, LET’S CALL A QB SNEAK, THAT MAKES SENSE
I will take this opportunity to arm-chair one offensive call. The Bengals had first-and-goal at the Saints’ five-yard line. On first, Rudi ran right for no gain and two yards setting up a third-and-goal at the Saints’ three-yard line. What does the mastermind Bob Bratkowski call? It’s a quarterback-sneak in shotgun formation – with the "speedy" Carson Palmer that’s so not concerned about his knee. To our surprise, Palmer didn’t pick up a yard.
THE ONLY ONE?
OK, the intro to Sunday Night football is sung by Pink. Honestly, this was the best they could come up with? Why not Randy Newman? I don’t think he’s had work since singing "left foot, right foot" on Family Guy.
THE STATE OF OHIO
It was a great weekend for the state of Ohio. The Ohio State Buckeyes beat the #2 Michigan Wolverines guaranteeing a berth in the national championship game. The University of Cincinnati beat undefeated Rutgers 30-11 earning their sixth win of the season making them bowl eligible. The Bengals beat the Saints 31-16. Only Cleveland lost this weekend to the Steelers. But we generally don’t count on the Browns.
Let’s give credit where it’s due. With Levi Jones, Rich Braham and Bobbie Williams out, the patch-work offensive line did exactly what they needed to be successful. The offensive line of Eric Ghiaciuc at center, Stacy Andrews and Eric Steinbach at guard and Andrew Whitworth and Willie Anderson played well giving Rudi Johnson his first 100-yard game since October 22nd.
Palmer was sacked only one time making that the lowest since Palmer was sacked once against Kansas City.
THROUGH THE NUMBERS
0 – Chris Perry had zero rush attempts Sunday. In fact, since his return against Carolina, Perry’s carries are 2, 2, 1, 4 and 0.
3 – Palmer scored three touchdowns Sunday making this only the third time this season he’s passed for three touchdowns or more. He had six last season.
4 – Rudi Johnson carried the ball 27 times Sunday. This is the fourth game this season he’s run 26 times or more (Bengals are 4-0).
6 – The number of carries by Bengals fullback, Jeremi Johnson, in November. He was shutout in September and October. He had eight all of last year.
18 – Amount of touches by Chris Perry since his return – nine carries, nine receptions.
25 – First downs the Saints picked up in the air.
595 – Total yards allowed by the Bengals defense.
1,412,526 – Times I’ve heard "Our County" by John Mellencamp.