In my previous article Don’t Overlook the Bengals, I remarked that the 4-3 defense would give breakout RB Ray Rice and QB Flacco problems as they have yet to see the defensive formation all season.
It turns out my prediction was right. The Bengals athletic ends were right there in Flacco’s face every time he went to scramble. They were able to shut down the run and close the hole on Flacco, pressuring him often. The Bengal safeties played hard and the corners didn’t give anything up deep—coming up big on the last play of the game to pick off Flacco with 0:04 left in the game.
I also stated that Coles, Ocho Cinco, Henry, and Caldwell could come up big in spread formations.
That prediction was right on the money as all the receivers (with the exception of Coles) had amazing games. They passed more often, caught more balls, and took more shots down field—thing they had been ridiculed for not doing all season. All of this came against one of the NFL's top ranked defenses.
The Bengals have now beat two of the five top defenses, and three of the top-10. What other team in the league can boast that statistic?
Cedric Benson had an amazing game rushing for well over 100 yards on a defense that hasn’t given up a 100-yard game on the ground since 2006. More impressive in my opinion is that Benson caught several balls out of the backfield to extend drives.
When Benson was resting, Brian Leonard continued to impress with strong performances and gained first downs—proving he deserves more playing time. Expect the Bengals to work him in more often, especially since Dan Coats keeps dropping balls.
Many probably overlooked this,but the Bengals used a different left guard Sunday. Palmer had lots of protection and was able to display his mobility. This marks the second straight week where he has scrambled for a first down.
The O-line rotation is very encouraging. The Bengals can still run ball, protect Palmer, and they have the necessary depth to keep the offensive rhythm going. This is very exciting considering first round draft pick Andre Smith can be worked in smoothly after he recovers from a foot injury.
For those who say the Ravens blew it—I agree. The Bengals committed penalty after penalty early in the game effectively giving the game away to the Ravens. This was on top of a miscue that led to an Ed Reed pick six. Only through resilience did the Bengals beat the Ravens.
For the second straight game the Ravens proved they do not have the mental toughness to stop a passing attack. It also proved they have troubles moving the ball late in the game. I am sure the Steelers were watching today as they aim to bounce back in the division race as well.
Had it not been for the great 48-yard run by Ray Rice who broke several tackles, the Bengals would have never been behind in the fourth. So with that, the Ravens didn’t "blow it" with penalties late. The Bengals went out and handled their business and now face a struggling Texans team at home as they look to improve to 5-1 on the season.