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Quick Review of Bengals 26-20 loss to Baltimore

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MISSING: Chad Johnson. Oh, there he is. Half-time show on NBC. Good, I didn’t think I saw him in Baltimore.

ON CARSON PALMER
When Carson Palmer threw an incomplete pass or took a sack on first down at any time on any drive, the Bengals punted – except the drive when the Bengals scored their 20th point. He looked off today. No, in fact, he’s been off all season. He threw passes too high and still isn’t hitting receivers in stride. An interesting observation by analyst Dave Lapham is Palmer is over-throwing mostly to his left.

ON THE FIRST TOUCHDOWN DRIVE
…the Bengals offense ran Rudi Johnson on first down three times – 25 yards rushing.

ON THE BENGALS ON THIRD DOWN
In second half, the Bengals offense was shutout on third down (five attempts).

OK, IT’S JUST NOT WORKING
I think it’s time to shutdown the hurry up/no huddle offense. The Bengals offense is going so fast, they aren’t giving their defense time to rest. On Sunday, the Ravens had the ball for 37:24 compared to the Bengals 22:36.

Look at it by quarter on how long the Bengals defense was on the field: 8:48, 9:26, 10:25 and 8:45.

I’m saying this now. Let’s ditch the hurry up and let’s ditch the no-huddle. Not only is it not benefiting the offense, but it’s now hurting the defense.

It would be one thing if the Bengals offense actually converted third downs and consumed some clock so the defense could consume some air. But look at the Bengals offense. Take away their two touchdown drives and they didn’t go longer than 41 yards on any drive. Look at the plays per possession: 3, 6, 7, 9, 3, 5, 5, 3, 6, 4, 1. Add to the fact they are running no-huddle/hurry up and they’re not giving the defense that much of a rest.

Time to let it go.

A POSITIVE? OK, HERE.
To their credit, the Bengals defense stiffened up in the red zone. On five red zone appearances, the Ravens only scored one touchdown. However, as luck would have it, Ravens’ place-kicker, Matt Stover had 12 points too – in the red zone.

Personally, I think the defense played well enough to win. I think the offense played well enough to win. However, anytime you "play well enough to win" on both sides of the ball, most likely you lost.

ON THE BENGALS RUSH DEFENSE
…the Bengals rush defense has been pretty much as advertised… unreliable. They came in Sunday allowing 129.3 yards rushing per game – 25th in the NFL. The Ravens rushed for 129 yards. The Bengals defense came in with the league’s 29th best rush defense allowing 8.4 first downs per game rushing – they allowed eight on Sunday. The Bengals rush defense has allowed 1.0 rushing touchdowns a game. Jamal Lewis picked one up Sunday. Ironically, as bad as the Bengals defense has been, they haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since New England’s Laurence Maroney ran for 125 yards – Willie Parker is the only other 100-yard rusher (133 yards). Ironic still, the Bengals are 3-3 when holding a feature back below 100 yards rushing in a game.

ON BENGALS THIRD DOWN DEFENSE
It felt like last week. Yea, Atlanta had 10 yards to go, but the Bengals should at least be average enough to stop a long conversion.  You stopped thinking that way early last week. This week, the Ravens converted to go distances of six, two six, six, and eleven. They converted five of their first six third down chances. On the bright side, they didn’t convert any of their seven chances in the second half and went nine straight without one.

ON TURNOVERS
… lets be honest, this why we lost. After Perry fumbled the opening kickoff, Samari Rolle picked off Carson Palmer, flipped it to Ed Reed who ran in for the touchdown. Take out those two touchdowns off turnovers and the Bengals have a 20-12 advantage. Unlike many wins, the Bengals defense didn’t cancel those turnovers out by getting one of their own. The Bengals turned it over three times to the Ravens zero.

ON TRIPPING…
I’m watching the Sunday Night game and a Colts defensive lineman, already on the ground, tries to trip Dillon by whipping his leg around. Maybe the rule was implemented by a high profile injury, but I don’t get it. You can hit a quarterback hard enough to cause emergency surgery that removes his spleen, but you can’t trip? Alrighty.

Yeap, the Refs are still terrible. Roger will be soon.
I’ve been saying it for about a year now. With the growing discontent of NFL referees, there needs to be an intermediary per game that corrects blown calls. When a defender is humping a wide receiver a full second before the pass gets there on fourth down, there needs to be a "god official". In this case, the ref in the booth would call down to the head referee and correct him with the penalty, the correct yardage and the time on the clock. For those of you that don’t know, the "god official" would also become the "replay official" and stop the action if a call was blown. He would also be available for a post-game press conference explaining calls rather than this cloak and dagger approach. I understand the NFL doesn’t want attention on the referees, but that’s a little late, don’t ya think?

There would be no more coach’s challenges – the dumbest idea in NFL history. This would be the league finding solutions to problems that exist. To me, that would define a good commissioner. Roger Goodell has done nothing but hand out fierce penalties on players as he talks about class when announcing an NFL game in China – a major human rights violator in the world. He was the sitting commissioner when the NFL announced they would take regular season games overseas. It’s safe to say he’s an internationalist. When terrible penalties define the outcome of a game that shouldn’t have been called, the losing team gets a letter in the mail that says, "Yo, my bad." Fix this Roger, or become the worst NFL commissioner in history.

OF COURSE NOW…
Now, as fans, we’re going to be treated like school children by the media. No, the refs didn’t cost us the game. They’re just terrible and blew calls – is there a difference? Yes, the Bengals didn’t play well enough to win as a team. May I go to the bathroom?

KICKOFF/KICKOFF RETURN
…I’m starting a petition firing Chris Perry from kickoff return. Any takers? He fumbles the opening kickoff of the game putting the Ravens at Cincinnati’s 34-yard line. The Ravens went six plays – touchdown. After the Ravens went up 17-0 with 5:44 left in the second, he fumbled again! I was convinced the anger generating from Bengals fans would convert enough power to light up a city block – for a week.

O.K., I’m being a little rough on Perry. He’s not what you’d call an experienced kickoff returner. But it hurt when the Ravens scored a touchdown with 12:06 left in the first putting the Bengals behind the eight-ball early.

If that wasn’t enough, Shayne Graham was just amiss late in the game on kickoff. His first kickoff of the game – after the Bengals first touchdown – Graham kicked the ball into the end zone – touchback. Then he kicked off the second half to the Baltimore three-yard line. Then it went down hill. With 2:24 left in the third, after kicking a 51-yard field goal, Graham kicks it to the Baltimore 19 yard-line – Baltimore returned it to the thirty-three. After Rudi Johnson scored a 4-yard touchdown with 12:37 left in the fourth quarter, Graham kicked it to the 25-yard line – Baltimore returned it to the thirty six. Because of the short field position, the Ravens scored a field goal and went up by nine points.

WHEN WILL THE SWITCH BE MADE?
You hear it nearly all the time: "Why is Tory James starting and not Johnathan Joseph?" I will never know. Joseph hits opposing players hard and isn’t trailing the receiver every freakin’ time. When Joseph starts every game, I really believe this defense will improve (is that too obvious?). He and O’Neal would play receivers well enough that the Bengals could allow someone to actually defend Todd Heap – if it’s possible. Heap caught four passes for 84 yards – three receptions going 20+ yards.

NICE YOUNG RECEIVER
Michael Clayton will be a good receiver in this league. He caught eight passes –five for first down -- for 73 yards. 

MORE EVIDENCE THE REFS ARE TERRIBLE
Watching Sunday Night Football, Al Michaels is currently laying into referee Ron Winter after Tom Brady’s fourth down quarterback sneak that picked up a phantom first down. You watching, Roger?

DO YOU THINK…
...that T.J. Houshmandzadeh over-reacted towards the end of the game? However you answer, it was certainly justified.

We’ll review more as the week goes on.