What people on the NFL Network saw last night (all 10 of them) was a Bengals team, under the direction of Head Coach Marvin Lewis, that put season long adversity (off-the-field issues and injury) behind them in exchange for an impression that has all of us certain that Cincinnati will be in the playoffs. People saw a defense that dominated the line of scrimmage and made plays on third down. People saw why Chad Johnson is the best receiver in the league. People saw how ruckus the Jungle was and how loud our 12th man is.
But as fans, what did you see?. Here are a few quick observations I had during the game:
- Sam Adams is playing like we expected him to when he signed as a free agent. He was disruptive against the run forcing Jamal Lewis to run parallel and make his cuts in the backfield.
- I've been nothing but impressed since the Bengals signed Dexter Jackson. He had his best game against the Ravens Thursday night coming off the corner bringing down Lewis from behind around the line of scrimmage.
- Rashad Jeanty and Caleb Miller are doing a great job filling in for David Pollack and Odell Thurman.
- Johnathan Joseph will be a shutdown cornerback in time. He nearly picked off four passes -- the last one would have certainly sealed the shutout.
- Marvin Lewis, through the off-the-field drama and injuries, has done a tremendous job keeping this team focused.
- I'm convinced the Bengals have the deepest offensive line in the league.
- Chris Henry is the most over-hyped player on this team -- at least this season. Not only has he embarrassed this organization, but he drops a lot of passes. Sure, he's a good downfield threat hauling down those over the shoulder catches. But his drops on third-down and in the end-zone hurt this team.
- Jeremi Johnson should be our short yardage back on 3rd-and-short.
Paul Daugherty views the Bengals right now with guarded optimism.
Daugherty goes on to praise Cris Collinsworth's performance in the booth -- a praise I concur with.
ESPN.com's Michael Smith came away impressed with the defense:
Rob Boller of the Columbus Dispatch says (with multiple remarks about the NFL Network):
Unlike most of you, the Bengals barely missed a thing in their 13-7 win. Their offense clicked against a supposedly overpowering Ravens defense. Their defense turned Baltimore into the Cleveland Browns, coming 61 seconds from a second consecutive shutout.
The Bengals played with more desperation than a fan in Columbus trying to find a place to watch the game, because they had no other choice. A loss would have dropped them to 6-6 and severely damaged their playoff hopes. It also would have clinched the AFC North title for Baltimore.
I thought the flea-flicker worked primarily because of T.J. Houshmandzadeh. When the ball was snapped and Carson Palmer handed off to Rudi Johnson, Ed Reed bit for a second. It added to the deception when T.J. ran at Ed Reed acting like he was going to block him. Then he was shot out of cannon and sprinted upfield; Reed never had a chance.
This photo was on NFL.com this morning. It's one of my favorites. Quick, where's Peko?
Mark Curnutte points out the Bengals "won the three games in a rugged 12-day stretch and outscored opponents 74-23." During the broadcast, a graphic went up that the Bengals have never shutout their opponents for seven straight quarters.
I thought it was pretty neat that Chad Johnson surpassed Cris Collinsworth's career yards receiving total while Collinsworth was in the booth broadcasting the Bengals game for the first time since... well, I'm not sure.
OK, this Enquirer.com photo maybe better:
I said this yesterday, but before I die, I want to par-tay with Bootsy Collins.
The Bengals, after a ten day layoff, will play host to the Oakland Raiders then the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football.Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride [Enquirer]
Collinsworth honest, sensible; how did he ever get on the air? [Enquirer]
Bengals defense finally showing some teeth again [ESPN]
Center Wilkerson makes debut in place of the injured Ghiaciuc [Enquirer]
Young center Wilkerson answers call [Post]
Injuries shove Wilkerson into lineup for first time [Columbus Dispatch]
Bengals put on show for lucky few who saw it [Columbus Dispatch]
Acting job made flea flicker work [Post]
Flea-flicker catches Ravens' Reed off-guard [DDN]
Trick play, tough 'D' lift Bengals [DDN]
Stakes high, intensity low for Ravens [Enquirer]
Zeroing in on the playoffs [Enquirer]
Chad's hands got in the way this time [Enquirer]
Stars come out for night matchup [Enquirer]
Talk about turnabout: Defense has right stuff [Post]
Bengals defense rattles Ravens [Columbus Dispatch]
Low-profile Bengals give team boost [DDN]
Stars lined up, and almost goose eggs [Post]