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The Bengals lost early against the Patriots: Moments that Defined the Game

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I really don't know how to approach this week's recap. Do I talk about the game? Do I talk about post-game reactions? A little of both? Do I talk about the Patriots efficient as hell offense? No, that's Tom's deal. Do I talk about the Bengals injury and lack of defense? Well, I'd save time by simply copying and pasting older posts. Do I go around pointing fingers and casting blame why the Bengals are 1-3 embarrassed on Monday Night Football? That does no one any good. There are a few notes I want to examine with Monday's game before we move on while this game is ingrained into memory for the next 12 days.

Figure 1
Figure 2

The first play I wanted to examine was the 49-yard run by Sammy Morris. The Patriots (figure 1) lined up with a double TE set loaded on the right with standard I-formation. The Bengals ran a base 4-3 with Dexter Jackson cheating up into the hole over the outside tight end. Deltha O'Neal came up with no receiver. There was literally nine defenders in the box. Landon Johnson, a noted weak-side linebacker, played strong-side. The result was awful.

Bryan Robinson and Michael Myers ran an "X" stunt. With Robinson already running an inside A-gap slant, right tackle #77-Kaczur turned him further in. Myers, looping around Robinson's left, was chipped by the center #67-Koppen knocking him slightly off-balance. Myers was freed after the chip, but the carnage of bodies made it impossible for him to negotiate the point of attack.The stunt was erily similar to the Jamal Lewis' long run against Cleveland.

The right guard, #71-Hochstein, pulled out and remained linear with O'Neal in his sights. With the cornerback having little chance against a guard, O'Neal just dropped to the ground hoping to clog up the point of attack. The way O'Neal fell, Morris would have only been affected if he bounced outside. He turned inside. The inside tight end, #88-Brady, established outside advantage and turned Robert Geathers inside about three yards -- long after Morris had passed.

The fullback, #44-Evans, hit Landon Johnson -- the closest defender to make a play -- in the D-gap. Had Landon taken on the fullback better, perhaps this play falls for a loss. The collision in the gap dropped Landon to one knee finishing on his back.

The outside tight end, #84-Watson, locked into Dexter Jackson and drove him back five yards. The time it took before Jackson finally shed off the block, Morris was already in full sprint mode passing the Bengals "safety". The Patriots took a 10-0 lead after Tom Brady completed a touchdown pass to Mike Vrabel two plays later.

On the Patriots second touchdown drive, the offense called for eight consecutive Sammy Morris runs -- 38 yards rushing. After a no-gain on 2nd-and-4, Tom Brady completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss to take a 17-7 lead. The touchdown was all Randy Moss. Johnathan Joseph, with a noticeable height disadvantage, was simply out-classed. Moss leaped over Joseph, grabbed the pass before the cornerback could intercept it, then corkscrewed around bringing both feet inbounds for the score. Bengals fan or not, you have to admit, that was a tremendous display of footwork. But it was depressing to see the Patriots drive the ball down the Bengals throats -- injuries or not.

The moment the game was defined. The Bengals were driving with four minutes left in the first half after the Brady-Moss touchdown reception (above). Palmer completed two quick passes to Antonio Chatman (12 and 9 yards) then handing off to Kenny Watson picking up another first down. Palmer continued with completions of 11 yards to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and 18 yards to Chad Johnson before the two minute warning. Watson scampered for one-yard setting up a second-and-nine at the New England 20 with 1:22 left in the half.

Here's things to note first. The Bengals are already down by 10 points. The Patriots are finding their rhythm and the Bengals offense had been inconsistent thus far. With a touchdown, the Bengals would get the ball back in the second half with a realistic shot (well, not really) of taking a 21-17 lead after the first second-half drive.

Chad runs a streak route and Palmer throws to an "in" route. Miscommunication and #22-Samuel picked off the pass. Chad and Palmer argue. First half over. Bengals chances dim.

The only noticeable half-time adjustment is that the Bengals junked their uncharacteristic conservative mode and came out firing. Palmer completed passes to T.J. Houshmandzadeh (12 yards) and Reggie Kelly (21 yards). After picking up three first downs on the drive, Antonio Chatman was called for a hole. After Watson picked up six yards on a reception, Palmer went incomplete and incomplete -- Bengals punt.

The Patriots answered with another eight-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that took 4:07 that included a 16-yard Randy Moss receptions with a Bryan Robinson personnel foul after putting his hands in Brady's face. I suppose the complaining early when Ndukwe knocked him down was heard. But that's small apples. Morris ran three times on the next four plays for 13 yards ending with a 7-yard touchdown run.

Patriots lead 24-7. The crowd dies and the Bengals start pressing.

On the following two Patriots drives, they went 10-plays, 53 yards and field goal. Then 9-plays, 85 yards and a touchdown. In the Bengals defense, the first two offensive possession by Palmer and crew went eight plays each with the third going 10 plays. Problem is you have to finish drives. You have to score touchdowns. They didn't.

Red Zone. The Patriots reached the Red Zone six times scoring four touchdowns. The Bengals offense reached the Red Zone once finishing with a 1-yard play-action pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Housh finished the game with 10 receptions for 100 yards receiving and a score and clearly the one player that showed up.

Staggering stat. The Bengals really broke down in the second half. We know that. One telling stat of that is evident with penalties. The Bengals committed no fouls in the first half. In the second half, eight flags for 65 yards.

Staggering stat #2. Bengals were shutout on third downs (0/7).

Situation Result
3-11-CIN30, 1st Q (8:34) Adalius Thomas gets around Levi Jones and sacks Carson Palmer for an eight-yard loss. Bengals punt.
3-5-CIN25, 1st Q (3:54) Palmer pressured forced to step up and dump off to Jeremi Johnson who falls one-yard short of the first down. Bengals punt.
3-3-CIN33, 1st Q (:06) Palmer throws a duck to Kenny Watson. Incomplete. Bengals punt.
3-11-50, 3rd Q (12:15) Palmer incompletes a pass to Daniel Coats. A little off, but if the pass was caught, it would have been short anyway. Bengals punt.
3-2-NE22, 3rd Q (4:17) Palmer incomplete pass to Glenn Holt. Pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage after Tedi Bruschi leaped a mile over the line of scrimmage batting the football away. Bengals field goal.
3-8-NE39, 4th Q (10:39) Palmer incomplete pass to Chad Johnson. Bengals convert fourth down.
3-11-NE30, 4th Q (9:17) Palmer incomplete pass to Antonio Chatman (drop). Bengals kick field goal.

The Patriots converted 7 of 12.

Staggering stat #3. Patriots owned time of possession: 37:24-22:36.

What are others saying about the Bengals?

Steve Silverman points out the difference between the Bengals and Patriots.

As a result of a myriad of injuries to a defense that has never done exceptionally well at stuffing the run, the Pats just ran the ball down their throat. New England did not have its stud back Laurence Maroney (strained groin) available and Belichick was content to let Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris (117 yards and a touchdown) take care of business.

That’s just the problem. Good teams are resourceful and they find ways to overcome their obstacles. For example, the Patriots have been playing without defensive end Richard Seymour (Physically Unable to Play), who is arguably the best defensive player they have. Is Belichick complaining? Was Tedy Bruschi crying in the locker room? Of course not. Backup Jarvis Green has stepped in and played like a stud in Seymour’s place.

John Clayton points out the depleted linebackers.

That left the Bengals with only two linebackers -- Anthony Schlegel, who was claimed off the waiver wire Sept. 2, and Dhani Jones, who was signed last week. To compensate, Lewis had to alternate safety Chinedum Ndukwe or defensive end Robert Geathers as a third linebacker. The result was a disaster.

Kevin Goheed called it the Monday Night massacre. calls them the toothless Bengals.

Michael Wilbom says:

What a disappointment, by comparison, the Bengals are: frustrating underachievers, a team that only sporadically plays to its potential. Marvin Lewis could be heard postgame cursing his team, imploring them to play hard or get out. The Bengals' prideful and professional right tackle, Willie Anderson, said of the Patriots, "They're grown men who take football seriously." Clearly Anderson feels his teammates don't. The Patriots beat the good teams and embarrass knucklehead teams like the Bengals.

Gregg Doyel says:

Poor Bengals. What happened Monday night was sort of pathetic, and somewhat avoidable. This being the Bengals, they don't avoid issues. They create them, then milk them for the maximum self-inflicted damage. Don't be fooled by the Bengals' respectable 36-32 record under Marvin Lewis. The only difference between this team and Dick LeBeau's Bungles is Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, three offensive players who fell into Marvin Lewis' lap and have spent the last four years trying to overcome Lewis' baby, the Cincinnati defense.

Cincinnati's ineffective defensive schemes have been exacerbated by Lewis' shortcomings as the team's de facto general manager, including wasted draft picks on known character risks Odell Thurman and A.J. Nicholson. Both knuckleheads are -- were -- linebackers. The Bengals began the season with just seven linebackers, including injured Canadian Football League refugee Rashad Jeanty, and have been battling additional injury problems there ever since.