Why not ride the Palmer wave. By far, Carson Palmer had the best game of the season recording 27 completions on 39 attempts for 289 yards passing and a touchdown. However, it was the fourth quarter that Palmer really exploded. This was also the first game since December 15, 2007 (13-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers), that Palmer didn't throw an interception. Palmer's performance breakdown by quarter.
This is why it's so confusing the Bengals didn't continue riding the Palmer wave in over-time.
Furthermore most of Chris Perry's production came in the first half (54 yards on eight attempts). In the second half, Perry recorded 18 yards on 11 attempts; the rushing just wasn't there. So why, on the first two plays of overtime, do you run the ball when you've averaged 1.5 yards-per-attempt in the final thirty minutes in regulation?
Antonio Chatman recorded 101 yards total (70 receiving, 31 punt return; including two receptions that converted first downs. On third-and-three early in the game, Palmer in shotgun threw to Chatman running a 5-7 yard hook route and picked up the first down.
With time running out, on the Bengals final possession in regulation, Palmer hit Chatman on the right on third-and-one picking up 11 yards, but staying in bounds. Sadly, on the play before, the Bengals used 23 seconds preventing the Bengals from having another snap after the Chatman first down.
Chatman also picked up two more first down receptions (not on third down) in the second quarter with an 11-yard completion on a wide receiver screen and a 25-yard reception; tripped up by the Meadowlands turf.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh recorded 12 receptions for 146 yards receiving and a touchdown. Ironically, his last similar performance was a week-three loss, by three points, to the Seattle Seahawks (12 receptions, 141 yards, TD).
Seven of Houshmandzadeh's 12 receptions came in the fourth quarter. He recorded 81 yards and the team's lone passing touchdown, jumping over Antonio Pierce and wrestling the ball away from the defensive back. Typical Houshmandzadeh tough man touchdown.
- The Bengals converted all five third down chances in the fourth quarter.
- The Bengals came into Sunday allowing 203 yards per game rushing. Brandon Jacobs was held to 35 yards rushing on 14 attempts with a long of nine yards. It was Derrick Ward's performance that gave the Giants some rushing momentum. Entering the game with a 22-yard run off the right edge in the second quarter, Ward recorded four attempts with 10 yards or more -- including two 22-yarders.
- We're driving somewhere, if anywhere, if not here. On drives that the Bengals scored points, they averaged 11 plays and 67.4 yards. On drives that the Bengals did not score, they averaged four plays and only two yards.
The Bad. The Bengals pass rush was awful. Just awful. When you give any NFL quarterback the time that Manning had in the pocket, they're going to find someone. For a time, the Bengals pass coverage was good. No, seriously. It was; benefited with some poor passes from Eli Manning. However, you just knew the inconsistency at quarterback would eventually transform to a few critically successful passes against a defense that was bound to break at some point.
Leon Hall's performance was as tremendous as could be expected. Without Joseph, it was Hall that put the load on his shoulders and unloaded on some poor Giants receivers. David Jones and Simeon Castille made critical third down stops after allowing completions. I never categorize Jones or Castille with the talent of Hall or Johnathan Joseph -- nor do I expect them to pick off passes or suddenly become Champ Bailey shutdown cornerbacks. They played as well that should be expected of them.
Eventually, the Bengals secondary gave up after a 28-yard completion to Burress and (essentially) a game-ending 31-yard reception by Amani Toomer where no cornerback existed.
Levi Jones. Two false starts on Jones and twice (at my count), the guy he's blocking recorded quarterback sacks.
Redeemer. I'll dish out the criticisms, but I will point out that the Bengals center Eric Ghiaciuc was much better in the trenches than the first two weeks in the season.
The Ugly. Like many of you, I thought the Bengals play-calling in overtime was scared, conservative and almost submissive. In the fourth quarter, Carson Palmer completed 12 of 15 passes for 139 yards and a 17-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Then in overtime, Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski called two runs to Chris Perry for a total of two yards setting up a third-and-eight. And if not for a great play by Sam Madison, likely baiting Palmer into the throw, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was open. A quick catch, turn and dive and the Bengals record a first down and the first two Bengals offensive plays are forgotten. Instead, incomplete and head-scratching Bratkowski's thought process. The Bengals offense never saw the ball again.
Three players were active, but didn't play: Anthony Collins, Andre Caldwell, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
In the first possession of the game, Palmer was sacked, running backwards on a three-yard pass to Reggie Kelly, a timeout with 10:37 left in the first quarter, and sacked again with a Bobbie Williams fumble recovery. Bengals punt (thank god).
Cliff notes of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
- Bengals pass offense.
- Second straight game with a Chris Perry touchdown run; and general rush blocking by the offensive line in the first half.
- Rush defense on Brandon Jacobs.
- Coverage breakdowns late in the game.
- Rush defense on Derrick Ward.
- Pass blocking allowing Palmer to be sacked six times (losing 41 yards).
- Defensive pass rushing.
- Play calling in overtime; and losing in overtime.