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I wonder... after Monday

So when was the game considered "Game Over"?

I'm sitting there watching the game. It's third down and ten with 11:27 left in the game. Palmer throws an incomplete. Now it's fourth-and-ten with 11:22 left in the fourth quarter with the Bengals down by 14 points. I'm thinking, please don't punt. There's no point in it. The Colts offense secured the ball all day and our ability to take the ball away was neutralized. They had only punted once at that time (another at the end of the game).

So Cincinnati punted the ball away. After a 5:49 drive, the Colts' Adam Vinatieri kicked a 44-yard field goal to go up 34-16. Game over.

What happened to the offensive line?

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was lined up on Dwight Freeney all night. Freeney, shutout last season over Levi Jones, sacked Palmer three times. Basically, Whitworth was schooled. Stacey Andrews came in for Willie Anderson at right tackle who left due to injury. So, here was our offensive line at the end of the game:

LT - Andrew Whitworth
LG - Eric Steinbach
C - Eric Ghiaciuc
RG - Bobbie Williams
RT - Stacey Andrews

Did we even blitz?

Surprisingly, yea. We just stink about getting through. Kevin Kaesviharn and Dexter Jackson have had relative success, but our linebackers can't get sacks. Rashad "The Missile" Jeanty and Brian Simmons have been shutout this season. Caleb Miller has one and Landon Johnson has half of a sack for the season -- Ahmad Brooks also has one. And I'm not here to tell you that our linebackers should have high sack totals. But it seems, when they blitz, they hardly get any pressure. It's usually K.K. and Dexter -- from the group of non-defensive ends -- getting the most pressure from our defense -- and I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Do the coaches see something in Tory James we don't?

The guy can't tackle. He can't hit you in the mouth off the line of scrimmage. He can't trail one of the league's best receivers as he runs towards the back pylon -- well, actually he's great at trailing. We (like, everyone) have known the obvious; replace James with Joseph. Granted, Deltha O'Neal has been out because of injury and, well, something else. So it's not like O'Neal is back in shape; he's been out nearly a full month. But I wonder how long we'll go with James.

If you met Earth.

During the four-game winning streak, I was convinced the Bengals were the best team in the NFL. Playing great defense with an offense scoring points-o-plenty, Cincinnati was on a roll. Then I stumbled from the stratosphere..

Earth: Greetings Bengals, how was your vacation?

Was it just an issue of effort?

The Bengals played flat. Of all the things to play for (Monday Night football, national television audience, challenge of playing against one of the best AFC teams, playoffs), the Bengals did everything they could to lose. They played flat. They had no fire. They looked like they played through the motions. It's almost like they came to Indianapolis, knew they'd get owned and played to lose.

So what's next?

The Bengals head west to take on the 8-6 Denver Broncos. This will be the most critical game of the year. Win this, with a Jets and Bills loss (or a Bills and Jags loss), we clinch a playoff berth. Lose this game, and we could miss the playoffs completely. Something else to keep in mind, Denver is in the same boat now. They MUST win. Hopefully the Bengals junk their Monday Night effort and pull out a win next week.