Now that I look at the title of this edition of Monday Touchdown, I realize that I sound like a pirate. I assure you, I am not a pirate... kind of wish I was though (drifting off into fantasy land where I imagine myself swashbuckling on the high seas).
.......... hold on..........
Okay, I'm back. That was fun. I need some fun after what happened yesterday. To be honest, this Monday Touchdown is going to be harder to write than most. Losing sucks but losing to the Browns always seems to leave a much more bitter taste in my mouth. I can get over losing to the Patriots in the opening game of the season but getting over a loss to the Browns is a little harder to do. Hopefully the Reds will pull me out of my funk by this weekends game against Tampa Bay. So... here's the seven things that I liked about the loss to the Browns. That's really really hard to say.
Point One: Carson Palmer says "Shut Up"
Carson Palmer has taken some shots this season. Considering how many weapons he has at his disposal, Palmer hasn't put up the pro bowl numbers that many expected he would. His passer rating was low and then got lower and the Bengals offense stalled and eventually seemed to stop. When a ship runs aground, the captain is always to blame whether he was at the helm or not (maybe I am a pirate). Well, Palmer is the captain of the Bengals offense and when the Bengals offense fails to produce the captain, Palmer, is going to have the most fingers pointed at him. He broke a whole bunch of fingers on Sunday.
Even though the Bengals lost and the offense didn't produce on every drive, Palmer silenced critics by throwing for 371 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with a 121.4 passer rating which is the second highest he's ever had in a loss. Minus a couple bad throws under pressure, Palmer looked like the Palmer we expect to see every week. He showed us that he is perfectly capable of taking over the game when he needs to and that he is good enough to take the Bengals where the Bengals want to go. Hopefully he plays that way from here on out.
Point Two: TO
Everybody that asked how a defense could cover Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens at the same time had their question answered on Sunday. It can't be done if everybody does their job right. That's the catch. Palmer wasn't the only guy who had his best game of the season against the Browns. TO did too. By a lot. TO ended the game with 10 catches for 222 yards including a 78-yard touchdown bomb down the sideline. This is why the Bengals signed him.
Point Three: Dhani Jones
The guy goes to other countries and participates in their sporting events and immerses himself into their culture and on top of all of that, he video tapes it so we can watch what we don't have enough money to do. Oh yeah, and the dude makes bow ties look really awesome. I bought one and tried it on when I got home and I looked like an idiot. I want to be Dhani Jones.
Almost forgot about Dhani the football player. He led the Bengals in tackles on Sunday with nine (seven solo tackles) and he leads the Bengals so far with 32 (21 solo tackles). Keith Rivers is second on the team with 24. Jones is proving that he's not only awesome on the field, he's pretty awesome on it. I really want to be Dhani Jones.
Point Four: Leon Hall
Leon Hall has intercepted a pass in all of the last three games. Hall is half of one of the NFL's best cornerback duos. While I wish Hall's interception would have given the Bengals a win against the Browns, I can't complain with three interceptions in four games. Hall and Joseph should both make every quarterback doubt himself every time the ball leaves his fingers.
Point Five: Defending one of their own
I'm not in the position to say whether a big hit in the NFL is legit or not. What I can say is when I compare the hit laid on Jordan Shipley by T.J. Ward to the hit that Chinedum Ndukwe got a penalty for, they weren't really close to being the same. Ndukwe shouldn't have been flagged. Oh well. It was nice to see that Shipley's teammates, namely Palmer and Owens, came to his defense after the game, calling for T.J. Ward to be fined for the hit.
"It’s a cheap shot and a shot that shouldn't happen," said Palmer. "When you see a guy laying on the ground like that it makes you realize how violent this game can be. But he’s a tough kid and didn’t make any excuses for it and he’ll want to play next week. I hope he doesn’t because of the situation but that’s the type of guy he is and you love his attitude and love the way he approaches the game."
Shipley is a rookie but I'm glad that everybody on the team is close enough that guys that usually don't speak out (Palmer... not TO) are willing to say something for their teammate.
Point Six: It's not a killer
Can you tell I'm reaching for things now? Even though the Bengals lost their first game to the Browns (GAG), the Bengals season and chances to be back to back AFC North Champs are just as good. Don't get me wrong, a loss to the Browns is a pretty big blemish on any record but as long as the Bengals take care of business with the rest of the AFC North, they should be primed to make the playoffs two years in a row as the champs of one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.
Extra Point: Wake up call
If the Bengals lost because they walked into the Browns stadium thinking that the game was won before it started then they just got a huge wake up call. News flash to the Bengals: If the Browns can beat you then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly can. It would have been nice to see the Bengals go into the bye week with a 4-1 record... that's the way it should have been. Instead, the Bengals will play against the Buccs this Sunday at home to go into the bye week with a 3-2 or a 2-3 record. Hopefully the embarrassing loss to the Browns is enough of a wake up call and motivator for the Bengals to make it 3-2.