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The Monday Touchdown: Win in Carolina Edition

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Woot! The Bengals win in Carolina and advance their record from 1-1 to 2-1. While there may have been some frustrating plays, you can't complain about a win. An ugly win, after all, is still a win. While the offense sputtered at times, there were moments of brilliance and the defense was brilliant throughout the majority of the game. While I expected the Bengals to completely destroy the Panthers I can settle for the Bengals punching the Panthers in his face right in front of his hot girlfriend and then taking said girlfriend home just to add insult to injury. Not quite destroying the Panthers but also not cuddling with the Panthers either. So, here's the seven things that stood out to me this week.

Point One: Rey Maualuga can fly

After Kevin Huber (we'll get to him later) pinned the Panthers close to their own goal line, the Panthers decided to protect their rookie quarterback, Jimmy Clausen, by running DeAngelo Williams three times. The Panthers didn't want to take the chance of the Bengals talented secondary picking off Clausen being so close to their end zone. Luckily for the Bengals, Mike Zimmer is in the possession of one of the lost seeing stones and knew that the Panthers would run up the middle. Okay... I'll get to the point. On third down, the Panthers lined up to run up the middle again. The ball was snapped, Clausen handed the ball off to Williams but before Williams could even look for a hole in the line, Rey Maualuga Super Man leaped over the line and landed on top of Williams, stopping him for a loss. It was an amazing play and an amazing example of his talent.

Point Two: Cedric Benson is back

Cedric Benson owners in fantasy football leagues nation wide rejoiced about the fact that Benson looked like he did last season, powerful, fast and in the end zone. Benson was the Bengals offense against the Panthers, scoring twice, once on a running play around the edge and once on a passing play. On one particular play that stands out to me, Benson burst through the hole and past the linebackers. As a safety lowered his shoulders to take on the freight train that is Cedric Benson, Benson lowered his shoulders as well and completely flattened the poor Panther, running him over and advancing the ball at least three or four more yards. It was a thing of beauty.

Point Three: Jordan Shipley is getting better

And by better I mean he's really good. Shipley had three receptions for 37 yards before he left the game early with an injured shoulder (don't worry, he's fine). Shipley has carved a nice little niche for himself between Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. When the two of them are being double covered, it's Shipley who comes away with the big first down receptions. Pretty soon he'll have one of those two touchdown games and fantasy footballers will be killing each other to pick him up on waivers. Go get him now before you end up in an "I want Jordan Shipley" fist fight with your buddies.

Point Four: Kevin Huber

Kevin Huber punted the ball six times against the Panthers. Five of those punts were within the 20-yard line and two of those five were within seven yards of a safety. It is one of the biggest reasons that the Bengals defense was so successful. The closer to their own end zone the Panthers were, the more conservative their play calling was and the more conservative their play calling was, the more dominating the Bengals defense was. Then the Bengals would force the Panthers to punt and get the ball back with great field position. Huber was directly responsible for the Bengals win in
Carolina.

Point Five: Time of Possession

If the Bengals offense is going to lack explosiveness, like it does now, then it needs to combine a grinding, ball control offense with its tough as nails defense..... like it does now. The Bengals time of possession is almost ten minutes greater than that of their opponents. If the Bengals are going to be unable to put up a lot of points on the board then they need to hold on to the ball and keep it out of the hands of the opposing offense and, and just like last season, that's what the Bengals are able to do. I for one hope that the Bengals add some nuclear rocket fuel to their offense, and I don't think it's too late to do that, but until then, I'll take the time of possession wins.

Point Six: Mike Nugent Remains Perfect

Nuuuuuuuuuge. I love it. Nugent was perfect again on Sunday against the Panthers on a real grass field, in the rain. He hit one 30-yard field goal and his second 50-yarder. So far this season Nugent has been the Bengals leading scorer and while that's kind of sad, I'm happy that the Bengals front office made the obvious right decision to keep Nugent over Rayner. I always enjoy watching an Ohio State or UC kid in Bengals stripes, especially ones that can kick a football through an open window on a Geo Metro, six miles away traveling west at 64 miles per hour. Blindfolded.

Extra Point: Jermaine Gresham again

I'm getting concerned at this point that I'm going to get tired of writing about Gresham but as long as he keeps producing, I can't complain. Once again, Gresham looked like the tight end Bengals fans have been dreaming about. He reeled in four catches for 59 yards against the Panthers. Some of those yards came on some tough running after the catch too. Gresham is a beast and I can't wait until he tears up the rest of the AFC North. By the time the Bengals reach their bye week, Gresham should help them get to a 4-1 record.