This is how it works. When the Bengals win, everyone celebrates because everyone was a big part of that win. When the Bengals lose, giving up over 100 yards in the fourth quarter and 10 points in the final minute of the game, we blame Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. That's just how it is. Morgan Trent was covering Louis Murphy, who scored the game-tying touchdown. We blame Bob. The Bengals defense put no pressure on the Raiders quarterback. Blame Bob. Carson Palmer fumbled twice. Andre Caldwell fumbled twice, Jeremi Johnson fumbled once, all combined for three lost fumbles. Blame Bob. The Bengals committed eight penalties -- including two false starts on Chad Ochocinco, a false start on Nate Livings, encroachment on Tank Johnson, neutral zone infraction on Jonathan Fanene. We blame Bob.
Sure. There are things you could scratch your head about with Bratkowski. You could point to a Brian Leonard sweep to the right with 43 seconds left in the first half which forced the Raiders to take their last timeout. They got the ball back with 26 seconds left, at their own 36-yard line. While blaming Bob, Gradkowski completes a 19-yard pass to Zach Miller, and a short six-yard pass to Darren McFadden. Luckily Sebastian Janikowski missed a 57-yard field goal attempt to close out the first half.
I'm not defending Bratkowski here. I've never done that. But I'm not excusing the fact that the Bengals players lacked execution. I'm not letting them off the hook. A botched center to quarterback exchange should be the most natural act in football. A wide receiver should never false start. And the Bengals should have protected the goalline with the entire secondary, not just Morgan Trent covering a taller receiver, that allowed the game-tying touchdown. Three sacks allowed on third down and three lost fumbles tend to help you lose games too!
Some will claim the imbalanced rushing to passing ratio. That might be a fair argument. But the Raiders came into Sunday's game sporting the league's 29th best rushing defense. The Raiders 14 allowed rushing touchdowns was tied for 31st. They were ranked 14th against the pass. It makes sense to attack the defense's weakness. Some also claim that the rushing offense wasn't working and that Bernard Scott's rushing numbers were no good because of a 61-yard rushing play inflated his numbers. Since we believe in fairness, let's should take away Laveranues Coles' 40-yard reception and Chad Ochocinco's 30-yard reception because they inflated Carson Palmer's numbers. Now, Palmer has 137 yards passing.
Last I checked, blaming Bratkowski for bad play from the offense, defense and special teams will only get you so far. At some point the players are the ones that execute. So instead of taking the easy way out, let's just acknowledge that players and coaches were to blame for Sunday's loss. This is a team. A collection of people with a bigger picture in mind. Or give the Raiders credit. They played their butts off and took it to us. Either way, a loss is a loss. The best part? Taking it out on Cleveland.
I know that my opinion will be in the minority on this one, so go to town.