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The Daily Banter: Defensive Struggles Persist During Bengals Losses

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Not that it's particularly interesting, my weekend has been interesting enough. On Friday, my car nicknamed Big Cherry, broke down, being put into stasis, or in the "we're going to rebuild her" to do list. Which will eventually happen. On Sunday, went to the Reds game to watch our boys get shutout 2-0, to the Philadelphia Phillies. Hey, great job on the season guys. Hopefully this is only the first step on a long road for Cincinnati sports traditions -- provided the Bengals eventually sign up as well. On Monday, I officially replaced Big Cherry with a new car, thus coming to the eventual reality that everything is back to normal.

Normal is such a nice thing, isn't it? It gingerly cradles you into things that you know, so you don't have to adapt, if you choose. However, sometimes the excitable new is always a welcome change. Personally, I tend to be a creature of habit, sticking with what I know, placing everything into a wheel of common routine. It's just simpler that way.

The Reds were the excitable new. The Bengals were the routine, normalcy that we've become so accustomed to, without actually being accepting of it.

Truthfully, I could cite fire and brimstone, total depression into a world where depression has unlimited credit. But that's not me. I could tell you that the world is ending, evident by Carson Palmer's three interceptions which led to 17 points for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Still, nothing the Bengals did or didn't do, relieved or limited my frustration when learning that I'd need a new car.

That being said, here are a few thoughts through five weeks into the season.

  • As much hatred being spewed for Carson Palmer right now, the Bengals receivers dropped passes, the play calling was questionable that led to Palmer's second interception -- whereas the team would have been better off running the football, killing time and punting. That being said, you expect more production from a guy that's far and away the highest paid player on the team.
  • The defense, while playing fine at times, is hardly consistent. In both wins, the team's defense was playing in their 2009 form. In their three losses, they looked more like a pre-Zimmer defense. Cincinnati's average yards allowed during a loss is 91 yards more than a win. Furthermore, the discrepancy on third downs allowed is massive, nearly 30% worse during losses compared to wins.
  Yrds/Total Yards Passing Yards Rushing 3rd D %
3 Losses 354 234.3 119.7 52.6%
2 Wins 263 165 98 23.1%


+ Joe Reedy grades the team, giving mostly every unit on offense a B, save for quarterbacks and wide receivers. On the other hand, no one on defense received a mark greater than a C+.

+ Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson writes that Carson Palmer was one of week five's losers.

He’s just far too inconsistent right now, and you can see the frustrations are starting to bubble up on offense. The key interception in the loss to Tampa wasn’t Palmer’s fault – the ball bounced off Chad Ochocinco’s hands. But Palmer has been a faint shade of his former Pro Bowl self. His downfield accuracy isn’t consistently there, and his pocket presence just doesn’t look confident.

+ Don Banks believes that the Bengals got hosed on the late reception that gave Tampa Bay a chip shot with the time winding down.

I think they got hosed on the Spurlock call, but that doesn't absolve the Bengals entirely. The defending AFC North champs let a Bucs team that won three games last year pin a third loss on them, dropping Cincinnati to below .500 at 2-3, two full games behind first-place Baltimore.

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer turned in another puzzling performance, throwing three interceptions, with just 209 yards of passing and a completion percentage of only 58.3. Palmer looks like he's losing confidence by the minute, and I can't remember the last time I thought he looked like one of the game's elite starting quarterbacks.

On the other hand, many believe that Palmer's last interception, the pass that bounced off Chad's hands, wasn't the quarterback's fault. Banks writes:

Maybe Chad Ochocinco will tweet Sunday night and tell us what he was doing when that game-turning interception bounced off his hands to Bucs safety Sabby Piscitelli in the final 25 seconds of the fourth quarter.

+'s Clark Judge writes:

5. OK, so Terrell Owens has had two big weekends. Chad Ochocinco has not. Instead, he produced six catches for 79 yards and no scores his last two games -- both of them losses. Tell me that's what No. 85 had in mind when he welcomed T.O. to town.

+ ESPN's John Clayton writes, namely calling out Carson Palmer as the team's offensive woes.

Bengals' identity crisis persists: Just when you thought the Cincinnati Bengals had figured out their offensive personality, they created more doubt in a 24-21 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Carson Palmer struggled with accuracy all afternoon, but the Bengals settled into a nice running attack with Cedric Benson in the fourth quarter. Benson finished with 144 yards on 23 carries, but a false start with 2:28 left in regulation set up a third-and-13 at the Bengals' 38. Leading 21-14, coach Marvin Lewis called for a pass. Palmer stared down Terrell Owens and was intercepted by Aqib Talib. Remember, the Bucs had no timeouts remaining, so Lewis could have been conservative, called a running play and punted to take the game under two minutes and give the Bucs bad field position.

Josh Freeman drove the Bucs 50 yards in five plays to tie the score at 21 with 1:26 left. Palmer, who threw an interception for a touchdown earlier in the game, threw another interception that was returned to the Bengals' 34, setting up Connor Barth's 31-yard game-winning field goal with 1 second left. It was a meltdown similar to what the Dolphins did in the second half of their Monday night loss to the New York Jets. At 2-3, the Bengals have to go down as a big disappointment. Palmer, meanwhile, has six interceptions and a 59.3 completion percentage on an offense that's underachieving with only a 20-point-a-game average.