(Note: we're trying to keep the recap as the feature piece until Monday. So it might be weird to see this piece keep floating to the top. Keep your eye out for other post-game pieces below this one).
There's a ton we can blame Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski for. One thing you can definitely blame on him is the inability to adjust pass protection; either with designed rollouts or blocking Harrison away from slide protection. The Pittsburgh Steelers recorded seven sacks Sunday during the Bengals 10-38 loss, in which the Steelers recorded 21 fourth quarter points, enabled with the inability by the Bengals defense to prevent big plays.
Of the seven sacks, four came from guys that Kenny Watson was blocking; two off a Reggie Kelly block and another off Stacy Andrews. The seventh (not in chronological order) was a naked bootleg to the right, where no one was blocking LaMarr Woodley, who was unconvinced that the Bengals would hand the ball off on second-and-three -- or perhaps Pittsburgh defenders are just more disciplined. Then again, our play-action is about as convincing as honest empathetic politicians. In the end, the Bengals lost 46 yards on sacks alone.
Once again, the biggest contributions to the Bengals loss was allowing big plays. Early in the game, the defense allowed long plays on decent third down to-go distances that kept the Steelers opening touchdown drive alive. With third-and-seven at the Pittsburgh 28-yard line, Ben connects with Hines Ward on a 29-yard pass. David Jones', with concrete block feet, enjoyed the "let Ward go wherever he wants" movie, reacting once Ward clearly picked up the first down. Later in the drive, the Steelers with third-and-13 at the Cincinnati 34-yard line, pick up 32 yards when the Bengals pass rush enjoyed a conversation about the government's $700 billion bailout with their Steeler counterparts. Earl Gray tea, lovey. After Holmes was tackled at the two-yard line following the long third-down conversion, the Steelers easily scored on a pass to Mewelde Moore; Brandon Johnson had a "oh no" moment playing the run.
Not that it mattered much, with a Bengals offense that redefined "suck" early in the game. The Bengals started the game going three-and-out on their first five possessions; recording -5 yards on the first three drives, and three yards total after the fifth. To bring about the absolute embarrassment of having an ineffective offense, combined with NFL highlights that will end with 98% of the NFL community laughing at our lovely team, Cincinnati presented a 15-yard loss after T.J. Houshmandzadeh fumbled a pitch on end-around. Houshmandzadeh recovered the fumble, setting up a second-and-25, eventually losing seven yards on the possession. Then there's the 15-yard Kyle Larson punt. We're not to reflect on that.
The Bengals were eventually able to manage a 14-play, 92-yard touchdown drive highlighted by eight consecutive Ryan Fitzpatrick completions, and completing nine of 10 resulting with a five-yard touchdown pass to Chad Johnson to close out the first half. After that, it was back to business of "sucking", with the lone exception of a 12-yard, 49-yard drive that ended with a field goal, closing the gap to seven points. Let me rephrase all of that. The Bengals scored their only touchdown on a 92-yard drive. The other 11 drives went for 95 yards.
Another arbitrary statement, comes in the form of yards per quarter. Even though the Bengals started the game with five yards in the red, the offense ended the game recording five total yards in the fourth quarter; once again proving that if the Bengals weren't forced to play football in the fourth quarter, their odds to win a football game improves dramatically. Unfortunately, during his innovations of making football what it is today, Paul Brown didn't disregard playing the fourth quarter, and thus the second team he created is winless through seven games. In the second and third quarter, the Bengals offense recorded 187 yards upgrading their status of "suck" to "not so suck". At the bookend quarters (1st and 4th), the Bengals had zero yards, sadly demoted back to "suck".
Then Geoffrey Pope proved why no other team cared for his talents on the 53-man roster, allowing super-stud Nate Washington to break away by five car-lengths for a 50-yard fourth quarter touchdown pass; a two touchdown lead with eight minutes left in the game that would crush any momentum the Bengals had built up.
However, the game was really lost with 4:50 left in the game, and the Steelers bringing in Byron Leftwich to engineer a six-play, 34-yard drive capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward at the two minute warning. If not for that touchdown, the Bengals only lose by 21 points.
Another underscored point that should be loudly heard, is a justified argument that Levi Jones is aiming for a high percentage stake in the "just suck" award. Third-and-Six at the Cincinnati 42-yard line (8:32 left in the first quarter), Fitzpatrick throws an incomplete pass to Chris Henry down the left sidelines, about a yard after the first down marker -- the throw was late and the defensive back recovered. On that play, Harrison beat Levi Jones and dropped Fitzpatrick a step after the pass was let go. On third-and-12 at the Cincinnati 18-yard line (14:53 left in the second quarter), Harrison latches onto Levi Jones and drives him backwards into Fitzpatrick, who ends up escaping pressure momentarily by rolling out to the left. The pass was poorly thrown because of pressure, unable to set his feet, intended for Chris Henry. On third-and-Two at the Cincinnati 16-yard line (11:42 left in the second quarter), Harrison, like the play before, latches onto Levi Jones and, like the play before, drives him into Fitzpatrick. The quarterback is forced to rollout (and badly panic) to the left, horribly missing Kenny Watson, who had position, several yards away from the closest defender and an easy first down. On third-and-Seven at the Cincinnati 23-yard line (13:40 left in the third quarter), Timmons lined up over Levi Jones, blitzing on the third down pass play. Timmons found his way to Fitzpatrick by manning Jones. Luckily, Fitzpatrick escaped the sack and found 10 yards and the first down.
If Jones isn't fighting for his job, then the obvious is known; that you start based on the percentage of your salary against the payroll; not the effort in which you help the team win. And you notice by now, I'm not having convolutions talking about Ghiaciuc.
For a while, the Bengals defense was making another mark by keeping the Steelers offense from being effective. In the first half, after the Steelers opening touchdown drive, the Bengals forced four punts and allowed a field goal on five non-end-of-the-half possessions and only 79 yards total.
However, in the second half, the defense forced one punt on five second-half possessions with the rest ending in touchdown... and none taking longer than six plays. Steelers second half possessions.
Here's the breakdown of the sacks allowed by the Bengals offense.
- James Harrison with Reggie Kelly blocking. Harrison made an outside, rushing move, overpowering Kelly (in that Kelly couldn't keep Harrison away) for the first-down sack.
- James Farrior with Kenny Watson blocking. Farrior lined up, outside of James Harrison on the right (from the Steelers point of view). Timmons blitzed on the other side, unblocked, forcing Fitzpatrick to step up into the pocket. When he moved up, Farrior shed off the Watson pass block for the sack on third down.
- James Harrison with Kenny Watson blocking. The Bengals tried to rollout to the right, with the offensive line flowing to the right. Harrison, lined up to the left (from the Bengals point of view), came from behind, jumping over a Kenny Watson block (trying to take out his legs), sacking Fitzpatrick on third down.
- LaMarr Woodley with no one blocking. Bengals attempt a naked bootleg to the right, likely a quarterback run. LaMarr Woodley, not fooled by the run fake, rolled out with Fitzpatrick, tackling him three yards short of the line of scrimmage. Kind of a cheap sack, because it appeared to be a designed run -- Cedric Benson was uncovered beyond Woodley with a definite first down chance, or even a touchdown.
- Lawrence Timmons with Kenny Watson blocking. Timmons, blitzing off the right edge (from the Bengals point of view), collided with Watson, grabbed him by the shoulder pads and commanded him to lay down, sacking Fitzpatrick on third down. If Timmons didn't make the sack, then Farrior would have, after he got Levi Jones on his heels, pressing him into Fitzpatrick.
- Lawrence Timmons with Kenny Watson blocking. Identical as the broken pass protection above, also on third down.
- LaMarr Woodley with Stacy Andrews blocking. Woodley sped rush passed Andrews, knocking the ball out of Fitzpatrick's hand with a quick swat. The Steelers recovered the fumble, and the Bengals were well on their way losing their seventh game of the year.
- The Bengals didn't force a turnover.
- Chris Perry didn't have a single rush attempt -- and Cedric Benson BLEW UP Troy Polamalu. Benson ended the game with 52 yards rushing on 14 attempts -- which is still only 3.71 yards-per-rush.
- Houshmandzadeh, Slim Henry and Chad Johnson combined for 19 receptions for 154 yards receiving. Not close to their potential, but better than what they've managed so far, as a three-man unit.
- Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson each got in on the game. Simpson recorded a two-yard gain on a quick hit pass while Caldwell returned three kickoffs for 87 yards.
- Of 16 third downs, the offense only converted four -- whereas the Steelers converted 50% of their 12 third-down attempts.
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|Chad Ocho Cinco||8||52||6.5||1|
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