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Marvin Goes Back To Third Downs

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I'm going to have to ask you to relive a painful moment in recent history. Here we go: The Bengals are leading the Buccaneers by a score of 21-14. There is a little over two minutes left in the game and the Bengals have the ball. It's third down and the Bengals need 13 yards for a first.

There would be two schools of though here. School A would say that you have a fairly solid defense and a punter with a big leg. Play it safe, get a few yards on the ground with your running back who's already tore the defense for over 100 yards, punt the ball, pinning them deep and rely on your defense to get it done.

School B would disagree. School B is the school of no guts, no glory. They say drop back and throw for the first down. If you get it you're not too terribly far from the point that your awesome kicker can put the game away for sure. If you don't get it then you can always punt the ball and rely on your defense. It's the whole, high risk, high reward theory.

In this particular instance, the Bengals coaching staff chose to go with school B. Palmer dropped back, found Chad Ochocinco across the middle and across the first down line and fired the ball. It bounced off of Chad's hands and into the waiting arms of Buccaneers safety Sabby Piscitelli. A couple minutes later, the game was over and Bengals fans nation wide questioned the play call that seemed to seal the Bengals fate.

Let's pretend for a second that Chad didn't drop that pass. The Bengals would have had a first down on a gutsy call and more than likely would have won the game making their current record 3-2. Carson Palmer may not have been booed when he surpassed 20,000 career yards and Bengals fans would feel more comfortable heading into the incredibly tough section of their schedule. Fans also wouldn't blame Lewis for the play call.

Lewis took the blame for the loss after the game, saying he wanted to be aggressive and go for the first down through the air with the hopes of picking it up and then being able to run out the clock. He chose not to run the ball, which would have led to a punt if the first down wasn’t converted. Cedric Benson and the running game had produced 88 yards in the second half of the game and punter Kevin Huber was averaging 51.3 yards on the day.

Last season the Bengals were 4-1 at this point in the season. The difference between that team and this team, other than a lot of other differences, has been execution. Last year, the Bengals made plays like that. It was evident when Palmer led the Bengals on the last ditch effort winning drives that earned the Bengals the nickname "The Cardiac Cats". This season, those high risk high rewards" plays haven't gone their way. You win some and you lose some.

Lewis is confident in his offense, though. He's certain that the Bengals will get rewarded for taking that risk in future games.

"I have a lot of faith in our offensive group to get it done," said Lewis on Monday. "We didn’t come through this time but I think as the rest of the season goes we’ll make those plays."

I for one hope his confidence isn't misplaced - like the emperor's confidence was misplaced in his young apprentice Darth Vader..... I'm sorry, help it I could not (in my Yoda voice).