After the stunned silence and the eruption of outrage, after the philosophical musings about the mysterious ways of the universe and after letting it go with a sigh and a beer, we can talk about what happened yesterday in a serious, analytical tone that has nothing to do with hexes or of team ownership.
Outside of the tip, that was brought on by natural defensive instincts and a hailstorm of bad luck, the Bengals’ game-plan was solid.
The defense shut down the run, made tackles, and got pressure. They looked fast and hit hard, forced lots of punts and maintained field position as well as anyone could ask. The Bengals’ defense is the strength of the team and they proved it yesterday.
The offensive game-plan had some questionable moments—like a stretch-play hand-off to power-back Brian Leonard for no gain on 3rd-and-2 from the 11-yard line—but also had lots of play-action, some quick slants and outs, a weird fake-punt/wildcat run, and, a personal favorite, the shovel pass. The run game wasn't glamorous, but Benson got big chunks of yardage late in each half.
The pass-protection seemed good enough; the lone exception coming from back-to-back sacks due to missed blocks by Benson and Anthony Collins. Carson Palmer appeared comfortable in the pocket and moved well when flushed out. Penalties, dropped passes, and a botched field-goal prevented the Bengals from scoring in the first half, not the coaching, bad quarterback play, or the game-plan.
Laveranues Coles is not going to drop passes all year long the way he did in Week One. The penalties can be cleaned up, and the rookie punter can relax after getting his first game, and first blunder, out of the way.
The point is, if the Bengals stick to the game-plan they showed against Denver, the wins will come. The offense looked a little rusty and they definitely have a few bolts to screw down before they start to click, but there is too much firepower to silence this arsenal all year.
It's been a long time since a Bengal team had been defined as physical, but this lot looks pretty hard-nosed. Many fans already feel deflated after losing in such a ridiculous manner, and it was one helluva horse-pill to swallow, but what I'm seeing from this year's Bengals is distinctly different from what I'm used to seeing from a Marvin Lewis-coached team.
As demonstrated, we're not going to win all the time, but I bet there won't be many blowouts on the Bengals' schedule this year. If nothing else, we're going to see this team fight.
Mojokong—sometimes you just have to laugh it all off.