GAME: Cincinnati vs. Baltimore
WHEN: Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
BROADCAST: CBS. Dick Enberg and Randy Cross
SB Nation: None
Storyline: Bengals and Ravens fight for first place in the AFCN.
PERSONNEL: Brian Simmons will be inactive today. Rashad Jeanty is back and will start at strong-side outside linebacker. UPDATE: A.J. Nicholson, Reggie McNeal and Kevin Kaesviharn were inactivated. [Bengals.com]
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Comment here for your game thoughts (i.e. open thread)
3:55: Palmer throws it deep and is picked off by Chris McAlister.
3:54: With :18 seconds left in the game, the Bengals offense will get the ball back. Odd, but ok.
3:52: There was definitely contact on the play. The Bengals have gotten crapped on by the refs for too many weeks now. C'mon Ed P. (head of the NFL refs), let's write another letter to the team explaining how horrible your refs are. Just horrible.
3:50: Game over. No pass interference called. T.J. needs to develop a little more class. Understand his frustration, but c'mon. He takes his helmet off and spikes it to the ground.
3:47: Two minute warning, fourth and four at their own 30, game on the line. What's going to happen?
3:44: On first down, Lewis ran for four yards. Bengals take timeout #1. Dexter Jackson slipped past the line of scrimmage and dropped Lewis for a one-yard loss. Bengals take timeout #2. Then McNair drops back and the ball is nearly picked off by Jackson. Nice set of plays by Jackson. Jackson is hurt. Bengals have the ball. Remember, 2004? Bengals won that game, down by 17 at some point in the game winning 27-26. Freaking eerie.
3:40: Well, at least he kicked it past the 30. The Ravens took the ball to the Baltimore 42. Not a good sign.
3:39: Shayne Graham completes a 31-yard field goal bringing the score to 20-26. On the drive, Palmer completed a nice 26-yard pass to T.J. The drive really stalled after that. Let's go defense. Let's go Shayne Graham. Kick it past the 30... please?
3:33: With 5:54 to go, the Bengals offense has the ball back. The Ravens offense was "behind schedule" after McNair tripped over his lineman, a dropped pass to Lewis and an 11-yard pass to Clayton -- three yards short of a first. Then the Ravens shanked the punt to the Cincinnati 42 yard line.
3:30: Kyle Larson just kicked a 61-yard punt. So far today, Larson is having a nice day averaging 48.2 yards per punt with three of his four going inside the 20-yard line.
3:29: The Ravens have started their last two possessions at their own 36-yard line as a result of horrible kickoffs by Shayne Graham.
3:28: Bengals offense goes three-and-out. Punt.
3:24: After allowing four first downs, the Bengals defense held. On third-and-six, McNair sat back and threw to his left to Derrick Mason. It was a floater. Johnathan Joseph sat and watched McNair attempt the floater to Mason and nearly picked it off. Mason did a great job breaking up the pass. If Joseph catches that, he scored a touchdown. Ravens kick another field goal and lead 26-17 making it a two possession game.
3:21: Just when you thought the Bengals defense would grow a set of balls, they've so far allowed four first downs and four plays of 10 yards or more.
3:19: After Shayne Graham kicked another poor kickoff to the 36, Clayton catches an 11-yard pass and then Lewis runs for 10 yards.
3:16: OK, my nervous are at their wits end. I had to hit backspace about fifty times because I'm so fired up right now.
3:15: TOUCHDOWN RUDI JOHNSON. Rudi took the ball up the middle and shoved RAY LEWIS back into the end-zone! Hell yea. Left side of the offensive line buried the Ravens defense. Hell yea... Bengals down 17-23. We're close. Can we have another miracle comeback in the fourth quarter against the Ratbirds? Sorry, a little fired up over here in Cincinnati.
3:11: Now, Baltimore is challenging. This is crap. How can you have two challenges on one play? Mother... OK, to me, the refs should have picked that up on the initial challenge. I hate ripping the refs so much, but Baltimore shouldn't have to use a challenge on a play that was challenged -- and overturned -- because a guy could have stepped out of bounds. Just poor.
3:12: Play stands. Cincinnati has the ball on the four yard line with first and goal.
3:09: Sweet. Overturned. Bengals have the ball at the two-yard line. Lewis is on the sidelines in pain and for some reason Ed Reed is on the field. Hey dorks (refs), Reed was given medical attention!
3:08: Crap! A lot just happened. Palmer drops back and rips 71 yard pass to Chris Henry to the two yard line. Henry was on the right sideline and just ran straight out running everyone. Palmer floated the pass into Henry's hands. McAlister brought down Henry at the 2-3 yard line and fumbled the ball. Ed Reed picked it up and ran it back. However, the ball totally caused the fumble. This MUST be reviewed and MUST be overturned. Ray Lewis is on the ground in pain. Reed also was very slow to get up. Remember in '04 when Palmer had over 200 yards passing in the 4th quarter.
3:05: Lap points out at the start of the fourth quarter, that the Bengals have been beaten in time of possession by 12:20.
3:03: We're heading into the fourth quarter. Palmer is still below 100 yards passing. That's O.K. We're a fourth quarter team anyway -- I hope!
3:01: The Bengals defense must have caused fear in the Ravens third-down offense. On third-and-eight, McNair fumbled the shotgun snap. Nice. Please, Marvin, get rid of Ratliff on punt return. Should have let it go... instead we're inside the 10. Freakin' A.
2:59: Heap, on first down, picks up 21 yards on a McNair dump off pass. That's Heap's third 20+ yard reception of the day. Landon Johnson should have stopped him for roughly a 10-yard gain, but missed him. Landon makes a lot of tackles, but he misses a lot too.
2:57: Bengals pick up three after an automatic 51-yard field goal attempt. On the drive, Ed Reed committed a pass interference on a deep pass giving the Bengals 34 yards on penalty. Other than that, Rudi ran once for five yards. Chad Johnson caught a four yard pass but committed a false start. Bengals are still down, 23-10.
2:48: Ravens lead 23-7. The Ravens started on the Cincinnati 43 yard-line. After an 18-yard pass to Clayton on first down, Lewis ran for seven and was stuffed for no gain on second. Third-and-three, McNair drops back and throws to Mason who nearly caught the pass for a touchdown. He only got one foot in. So Stover comes in and for the field goal attempt and slams the left upright... the football gods willed the ball over for the field goal.
2:42: Well, OK. Three-and-out. Rudi ran twice for one yard each. Then on third down, Palmer was sacked by Pryce. Horrible display of blocking. Both Andrew Whitworth and Eric Steinbach were blocking Pryce. Whitworth fell down and Steinbach just wasn't quick enough to keep the pocket alive. Good job guys. The sarcasm drips while Larson punts.
2:38: OK, Bengals are down by 13 and start their first drive of the second half at their own 12 yard line. Get a touchdown and we're down by six points -- hence why Ravens FG is huge.
2:34: The Ravens on their first drive of the second half, picked up four first downs -- including completions to Heap for 20 and 28 yards. On their sole third down play, Mike Anderson ran up the middle. Peko pushed the line back and was the main contributor on the third-and-one stop. Nice. Ravens kick a field goal and lead 20-7. That was huge.
2:24: Bengals stats as a team
Yards: Bengals 128, Ravens 199
Time of possession: Bengals 11:46, Ravens 18:14
First downs: Bengals 11, Ravens 12
2:19: The Bengals defense, to me, is the story of the game so far. Not the happy go lucky things are going great story. My beef is their inability to stop McNair on third down. In the first half, McNair converted the team's five of seven third down opportunities for 53 yards passing. Johnathan Joseph -- the guy that should be starting over Tory James for the past seven weeks -- is the guy that's caused two third down situations to fall incomplete. Maybe I should let it go and just acknowledge that McNair is a great quarterback.
Chris Perry should be removed from kickoff return. I understand he hasn't been on kickoff return enough and will make mistakes. As a result, he's fumbled twice and recovered one. The other went for a Ravens touchdown after a few offensive plays.
If you take away the points off turnover, the Bengals lead the game 7-3.
Palmer: 5/11, 73 yards, TD, INT.
Rudi: 10 carries for 48 yards.
Chad: 2 catches for 25 yards.
T.J.: 2 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.
2:14: First off, I just want to say, usually when I'm tying these, I do it at blitzing speed. So I will have grammatical and spelling errors that I will usually fix during a slow period of the game. Sorry about that fellas.
2:05: Bengals SCORE TOUCHDOWN. Palmer pump faked to the left and looked right. Ed Reed covering T.J., Palmer threw it up and T.J. brought it down. Hell yea. The Bengals still have time. They are still running the ball. This is good. If we can continue running the ball, this will obviously allow single-coverage.
2:02: The Bengals are in the middle of the most critical drive of the game at the two minute warning. So far, they've run seven plays to the two minute warning. During the drive, Rudi has run on first down three times. For the game, Rudi has run for 46 yards on nine carries. I like the fact the team is still running.
1:55: The Ravens have had the ball for 17:08 to the Bengals 7:13.
1:54: Perry fumbles the kickoff... again. However, this time he picked it back up. Time to get Chris Perry off kickoff return?? I've got a headache.
1:52: On third-and-two, McNair passes to Todd Heap which was initially called an incomplete. After replay, Johnathan Joseph clearly stripped the ball. It's a fumble. However, the refs called incomplete and Marvin never challenged the play. Sad. That would clearly have been overturned. Refs blow a call -- how freaking much do the NFL refs suck this year -- and Marvin never challenged. Surely, he'll be asked about it. The good news is the Ravens didn't convert a third and are forced to kick a field goal. Bad call by Marvin allows three yards and a 17-point deficit.
1:49: Ravens stuck with a third-and-11 against the Bengals defense, what do you think happens. Yeap, an 11-yard pass to Derrick Mason. Ravens converted five of six third downs -- including four of five when 6 or more yards are needed.
1:44: Lewis runs twice for four yards setting up a third-and-six. McNair, empty backfield with five receivers, throws a 9-yard pass to Clayton. Problem is, the Bengals defense had seven guys in coverage.. including Marcus Wilkins who was covering short and in the middle. Ravens are 4/5 on third down.
1:39: Why I hate throwing on first down. After Ocho's great catch, Palmer threw on first -- five wide, empty backfield -- an incomplete to T.J. In Palmer's defense, the ball just slipped threw T.J.'s hands. I HATE plays that call for pass on first down. Just preference thing. Because on second down, everyone looks run. Rudi runs up the middle for two yards setting up a third-and-eight. On third down, Palmer throws over the middle to Henry. It was a little high, but should have been caught by Henry who let the pass go through his hands nearly being picked off. Bengals punt. STOP THROWING ON FIRST. And god, stop the freaking hurry up, no huddle offense. It's just not working right now (or the last few weeks.) However, receivers have got catch too.
1:35: Dave Lapham points out that when Palmer is throwing to his left, he's overthrowing... everything. After the Bengals ran Rudi three times for a first down (yes, pointing that out again for a reason), Palmer threw to Chad... to his left. It was thrown about 20 feet over Chad's head and only the amazing acrobats of Ocho Cinco made that pass complete. Nice job Ocho. First quarter is over.
1:33: Bob must be reading this site. First three plays on this drive were runs to Rudi. First down.
1:31: OK, this is where I point out to everyone, now would be a good time to show some form of ball control. Run the ball some. Don't depend on Palmer right now.. he's off on his receivers and has thrown one pick and two passes the could have been picked.
1:29: Bengals stop Ravens on third down. YAY! Ravens punt. Quick. Who is the only punt returner in the league to dance around so much, he makes guys miss but keeps dancing where those guys that missed make the tackle? Yeap, Ratliff.
1:27: The Bengals defense is stacking the line. Lewis has 15 yards on five carries. So far, the Ravens have converted all three of their third down situations.
1:22: Palmer starting out is 1 for 5 for 10 yards and an interception. Rudi and Jeremi have run three times for 14 yards.
1:21: Now the Bengals on kickoff return, have a penalty called on Peko putting them at their own 14-yard line. Ed Reed was called for an off-sides giving the Bengals a first and five.. Jeremi Johnson picked up five yards and a first down. Then Palmer threw five times (one called pass interference) and Rudi ran once for seven yards on a pitch to the left. After Rudi's run, the Bengals needed three yards to continue the drive. Incomplete, incomplete and punt. Great punt though by Larson to the three-yard line.
1:12: Ravens picked off Palmer and lead 14-0. On first down, Palmer dropped back and couldn't find anyone. He was sacked by Thomas. Coverage sack. Then Palmer hands off for a one-yard pick up by Rudi. Then on third-and-12, Palmer drops back and finds a very open Chad Johnson that could have picked up the first down. Instead, like so many times this season, Palmer overthrows the pass picked off by Rolle. He then handed off to Reed who walked into the end-zone.
1:08: OK, the Bengals are already losing 7-0 after Chris Perry fumbled the kickoff return. Hold onto the ball this time. For the love of god, please hold onto the ball.
1:06: Third and six, McNair throws a quick slant to Michael Clayton to his left. Picked up 10 yards on third down. Nothing new here about the Bengals defense. Jamal Lewis ran two times after that and punch it in for the opening score of the game. Ravens lead 7-0
1:03: Weird. After a 15-yard pass to Todd Heap, McNair came out of the game for two plays. Mike Anderson was in shotgun and took the snap for two runs totaling 4 yards.
1:01: Kickoff returned by Chris Perry. Fumbles the ball and the Ravens have it. Good start.
12:58: Channel 12 ran a promo saying "meet the guy that keeps the Bengals clean." Yea, I thought of Henry first also. I'm guessing he's either doing a horrible job or he's just cleaning uniforms. Tune in to find out!
12:50: The ESPN crew made their picks -- Irvin picked Baltimore. Ditka, Jaws and our local boy Tommy Jackson picked Cincinnati. God I hate Irvin.
12:15: Keep hearing, totally unconfirmed, that Rich Braham could return against San Diego. That's next week folks. Never thought we'd miss a 35-year old center so much. We're waiting for ya Richie. Braham will be celebrating his 36th birthday tomorrow (Monday).
12:11: ESPN's Tom Jackson interviewed David Pollack and the current struggle he's dealing with. Said if he's completely healed he'll be back. If there's a chance he could hurt his neck again, there's a "zero percent chance of coming back." It was a well done piece by ESPN. I'm sure it'll be available on YouTube in five minutes...
12:05: Kinda bored this morning. I woke up way too early (11 a.m.) and took care of my morning chores (aspirin and coffee). This is kinda where I want to get your predictions and/or keys. Personally, I think the Bengals will only win if we hit the deep pass. The running game -- yes, it DOES exist -- will face one of the best rush defenses in the league. And you know Palmer does well against these guys. For the Bengals defense, if we have about 31 guys in the box, we should be O.K. Homer Alert: Bengals win 31-24.