We continue our "review" of the Bengals 31-22 loss the Cowboys.
COWBOYS FIRST POSSESSION. On the first play of the second half, Romo throws a duck from shotgun to Patrick Crayton -- a yard short and incomplete. Barber takes the football on second down, stuffed by a penetrating Robert Geathers who shrugged off a Jason Witten block on the right. The Cowboys line up third-and-13 at their own 19-yard line. Romo, in shotgun with three receivers, throws a short eight-yard pass to Witten over the middle, with the Bengals defense running a deep zone, allowing anything underneath, but nothing over the top forcing a Cowboys three-and-out.
BENGALS FIRST POSSESSION. The Bengals ran an 11-play touchdown drive in 5:18 on this drive. Setting up at their own 28-yard line, Palmer hits Reggie Kelly running a two-yard up and out route, covered by Ware, only picking up a yard. On second down, in standard I-formation, Perry takes the handoff to the right, cutting back left after the offensive line crashed the Cowboys down to their right. Perry found a cutback lane and picked up eight yards on the run.
On third-and-one, Palmer lines up in shotgun, with Chatman in the slot running a short slant pattern. Palmer hit Chatman quickly after the Cowboys blitzed, bringing five defenders. Perry lost two yards after Ware shed off a Reggie Kelly block.
On second-and-12, Palmer drops back and fires a pass to Perry, who lined up at the wide receiver spot, running ten yards up and hooking around, picking up additional yardage after the catch and the first down. After Tank Johnson was called for off-sides, Perry picks up another five yards, up the gut. At this point, the Bengals offensive line finds a rhythm, blocking their guys and running up the gut.
After an incomplete pass that was nearly picked by Adam Jones (miscommunication, Chad ran out and Palmer threw in). Palmer takes the second-down snap, looks over the middle and hits Chad Johnson running 15 yards deep into a wide-open zone on the right. Perry picked up two yards on the next play, tackled by Jay Ratliff who shed off Eric Ghiaciuc's block.
Palmer throws a deep pass to Perry, running a pattern towards the back right pylon. The pass was too high, forcing Perry to jump and attempt a one-handed grab. This set up a 16-yard touchdown pass to Houshmandzadeh. Palmer, in shotgun and Houshmandzadeh lined up outside of Trips formation, throws a rocket while the Cowboys brought five. Houshmandzadeh dropped into an open area of the zone, catch the pass, turned and found the endzone. Bengals reduce the deficit, yet again, to four points.
COWBOYS SECOND POSSESSION. After a five-yard gain by Barber on the ground, Romo throws an incomplete pass intended for Owens -- the pass was skipped like a flat rock on a lake. Geathers pressured and dropped Romo. On third-and-five, Romo set up in shotgun, ripping a pass to Witten running a quick slant route. The Bengals pressured Romo with Brandon Johnson blitzing, forcing Romo to make the quick pass that Ndukwe wasn't ready to defend.
Crayton drops an easy deep pass, with Dhani Jones covering (and it appears that Jones may have masked Crayton just enough to lose sight of the pass in the air). After a pedestrian two-yard gain, Romo throws an incomplete pass to Witten forcing the Cowboys to punt.
BENGALS SECOND POSSESSION. The Bengals go three-and-out, after the offense is forced to start at their own eight yard line. Johnson commits a false start, Benson runs twice for one yard and Palmer completes a short four-yard gain to Chatman.
COWBOYS THIRD POSSESSION. Bengals' Keith Rivers intercepts his first career pass. On the first play of the drive, the Cowboys recovered a fumble forced by Ndukwe while Rivers is making the tackle. Instead, the Cowboys picked up three yards. Jones rushes on a pitch to the left. Leon Hall crashed down containing the edge, forcing Jones inside, limiting his gain to six yards. Barber picked up the first down on a five-yard run on third-and-one.
The situation is first-and-ten at the Cincinnati 35-yard line. The Cowboys line up in off-set I, strong side to the right. Romo fakes the handoff and throws a deep pass intended for Witten. Rivers, sitting in the underneath zone, picks off the under thrown Romo pass and returns it 39 yards.
BENGALS THIRD POSSESSION. On first down, Palmer hits Johnson running a 20 yard up and out route, dropping to his knees to catch the pass for a 19-yard gain. After a short pass to Chatman, Palmer throws two incomplete passes intended for Houshmandzadeh. The Bengals settle for a field goal, reducing the deficit to one-point.
BENGALS FOURTH POSSESSION. After Rashad Jeanty recovered the on-side kick, the Bengals have all the momentum. After two passes to Houshmandzadeh (six yards) and Chad (nine yards), we set up for the play of the game (not a good one from the Bengals perspective)...
The situation is first-and-ten at the Dallas 37-yard line, with 12:42 left in the game. The Bengals line up in I-formation, strong side to the right. Palmer pitches the ball to Perry to the right, with Daniel Coats leading. Levi Jones presses his man out, forcing Perry to cut it up. Tank Johnson is shifting down the line of scrimmage, no matter what Eric Ghiaciuc was trying to do. Johnson lightly tapped the football, forcing Perry's horrible effort to secure the ball to bite the team in the ass. The lost fumble would set up the Bengals' loss.
COWBOYS FOURTH POSSESSION. After a two-yard run by Barber, the Cowboys set up with second-and-eight at the Dallas 43-yard line. The Cowboys line up 3 WR I-formation. Romo fakes the handoff, and hits Terrell Owens running a deep post pattern. The pass was perfect, hitting Owens on stride. The Bengals, it appeared, ran a cover-four with Leon Hall deep on the outside, and (it appears, but not 100% sure) Marvin White covering the deep middle. Romo hit Owens in between defenders, and White (we think) whiffed on the tackle allowing Owens to complete the 57-yard reception for touchdown.
Note: we're not 100% sure if it was White or not. We don't want to say so, because no matter how many times we rewound the play, we couldn't get a good look at the number.
BENGALS FIFTH POSSESSION. After Glenn Holt returned the ensuing kickoff sixty yards, tripped by the kicker, the Bengals lined up first-and-ten at the Dallas 37-yard line. Benson picked up four yards on two plays, while Chris Perry picked up another three yards on two runs. Palmer completed two first down passes (11-yard pass to Coats, and nine-yard pass to Houshmandzadeh).
The Bengals were left with a third-and-seven at the Cowboys 10-yard line. Palmer, in shotgun with Trips to the left, hits Houshmandzadeh running a crossing pattern over the middle. No Cowboys defenders targeted Houshmandzadeh and walked easily into the endzone.
Two point conversion. The play was decent, mainly because of the match-up. Ben Utecht lined up wide left, with a short little cornerback covering. With the size advantage, the Bengals have a favorable match up. Palmer threw the fade pass to the left pylon, nearly caught, but the short little cornerback slapped the pass away for the incomplete and failed two-point conversion. We're not sure if Utecht would have been able to keep both feet inbounds anyway.
COWBOYS FIFTH POSSESSION. The Cowboys mostly grind the clock here, running the ball a lot and hitting short passes. Unquestionably tired, the Bengals defense allow two third down conversions, and three first downs in all. With 1:59 left in the game, the Cowboys line up in shotgun on third-and-11 at the Cincinnati 15-yard line. With two receivers on the left, Romo fakes the hand off with tons of pass protection, and fires a pass to the left. The pass goes through the hands of Miles Austin, with Crayton behind him picking up the sloppy seconds. This is a case of the Bengals having the worst luck in NFL history and all but sealing the victory for Dallas.
BENGALS SIXTH POSSESSION. The Bengals made an attempt to go down the field, but were limited to short gains, and tons of pressure on Palmer -- two sacks, one by Ware, another by Ratliff. The final chance was an incomplete pass on fourth-and-nine to Houshmandzadeh.