And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you let a team hang around instead of putting them away.
For three and a half quarters the Cincinnati Bengals did a great job doing everything but putting points on the scoreboard. The offensive line kept Carson's jersey clean nearly all game. Antwan Odom had two of the Bengals' three sacks, which means he's one sack away from his season total a year ago. There was near-constant pressure on Kyle Orton all day, with numerous passes tipped by the defensive line (one by Odom, one by Michael Johnson that I saw). The running game was far more effective than it was last year. There were several mistakes along the way, leading to one play with a half minute remaining that punched every Bengals fan in the world right in the gut.
Hit the jump for the highs and lows.
The Bengals held the football for nearly seven minutes longer than the Broncos held the ball. Time of possession was 33:27 Bengals, 26:33 Broncos.
At halftime, Quan Cosby had more yards returning punts than the Broncos had on offense.
Cedric Benson had 3.6 YPC, 76 yards on 21 attempts with a long of 20.
Chad Ochocinco had five receptions for 89 yards with a long of 34. He was beastly.
The Bengals' offense didn't put the ball on the ground once (though Carson had two picks credited).
Keith Rivers nearly knocked Eddie Royal into next week.
The Bengals had sixteen first downs to the Broncos' ten.
The last offensive drive of the game for the Bengals was a thing of beauty, reminiscent of the 2005 offense. Unstoppable.
After a few early miscues, the Bengals were largely penalty-free only drawing four flags to Denver's six.
You'll notice me changing gears now.
The Bengals had no less than six drops, Laveranues Coles dropping three all by himself.
The offensive playcalling was as stale and predictable as ever, save for the fake punt direct snap to Brian Leonard. Watching the final drive, there is absolutely no excuse for the offensive stalling we saw for three and a half quarters. I appreciate the dedication to running the ball, but Mister Bratkowski seems to forget at times that he has one of the more dynamic passing attacks in football when he tries to establish the run. He just never goes back to the pass.
After a full half of dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage, no points were on the board and Cincinnati goes into the locker room down 3-0. Did anyone think that good adjustments were going to be made, and the obvious question follows...how long have you been watching the Bengals if you did?
There were a couple of times that blitzes and stunts absolutely embarassed the protection. Collins got beat like a drum on the consecutive sacks on Palmer, as did Ced Benson who ate turf when he tried to take on a blitzer.
Brad St. Louis seems to have a knack for miscuing at the wrong times. Granted, any miscue could be construed as being at the "wrong time," but blowing the first scoring opportunity of the season doesn't set a good tone. Plus, if I could have reached through the screen and punched Shannon Sharpe in the lip I would have. "Ah, those funny Bengals" was in no fashion what I would expect an professional sportscaster to say at any time. Perhaps that doesn't apply in this case.
Time after time, the Bengals' defense (which was quite impressive, though the Broncos of 9/13/2009 aren't exactly potent anymore) put the offense in a position to put points on the board. Time after time the Bengals' offense blew it and Kevin Huber got the ball again.
Once again ladies, gentlemen, Bengals players and offensive coordinator: This is what happens when you let teams hang around rather than stepping on their necks and taking advantage when you are clearly the superior team. You proved you were superior by forcing the Broncos into three-and-out after three-and-out while driving the field very well...between the 20's. The problem lies in botched field goals and dropped passes that kill drives. The problem lies in overpursuit in search of the big hit that allows the man you should be covering to catch a tipped ball and run it the remainder of the 87 yards standing between your opponents' loss in thirty-eight seconds and a crazy, unexpected mark in your "L" column.
Let's work on it, boys. You've finally got some swagger, let's see you start putting teams away when you have the chance. If you don't, we're going to see Santonio Holmes streaking into the end zone to knock you out of the playoffs or Brandon Stokely being in the right place at the right time to catch a tipped ball and start your Cincinnati Bengals off 0-1.
Until next week I remain,
A Pragmatic Bengals Fan