In the last two Bengals preseason games, there have been players that have stepped out of the shadows and impressed spectators, but the entire team has not filled expectations.
Against the Cowboys, the defense had a solid game, stopping Dallas in the red zone and making them settle for field goals. In the same game, the offense could get nothing going and didn't look anything like what we expected to see.
The next week against the Broncos, the offense improved and was able to score a touchdown, but the defense lagged somewhat from their previous performance.
In the Bengals regular season games, that's usually how it is, but every once in a while, you'll have both work together to cause havoc for the opposing team.
This week against the Eagles, I expected the Bengals offense to have a good outing and the defense to give up some yards against a very young and talented Philly team. That wasn't the case because both offense and defense took care of the Eagles tonight.
Offensively, it was Cedric Benson running the ball early and quarterback Carson Palmer finding his new targets for some key plays. It wasn't the most explosive display of offense, but this is still the third week in preseason. The important thing was the Bengals' starting offense outscored the Eagles' and it was because the defense took care of business.
Palmer had two interceptions, but neither of them was his fault. On the first, Chad Ochocinco was not on the same page as his quarterback and on the second, Chad was laid out before the pick. Carson had a fairly good game, although not as good as last week with accuracy.
Terrell Owens had a great first half with three catches for 67 yards. He caught a 43 yard bomb from Carson Palmer to give the Bengals great field position and that's what everyone was waiting to see so far this preseason.
Later on in the game, Cedric impressed a lot of people with his 12 rushes for 47 yards and two touchdowns and I'm not talking about Benson. Cedric Peerman had a very impressive game for the Bengals and his performance tonight may get him a spot on the team while Brian Leonard is out.
Defensively, the Bengals stuffed such an explosive Eagles offense. Kevin Kolb had a fairly decent game, but he didn't lead his team to any touchdowns and that's a win for the Bengals. Without Kolb, back-up quarterbacks Michael Vick and Mike Kafka went 5-17 passes combined for 35 yards and four interceptions (three of them to Bengal Morgan Trent.)
The defensive line played a phenomenal game by recording three sacks and adding some pressure in the backfield. Rookies Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap were the standout players on the line and got things done for such young players.
Morgan Trent gets my game ball because he gets the mind blowing three interceptions out of the Bengals four the entire game. With Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph being such shut down corners it will be good to have a ball hawk in the group.
An underrated part of the game of football is special teams, and although the Bengals aren't as good in the kicking game their return game is looking fantastic.
Adam Jones had a big 40 yard kick return Quan Cosby had a 41 yard return and that is just amazing to see. Both are going to be important in order to give the Bengals offense a short field to work with and this is something the team hasn't had the luxury of having.
You can't go without mentioning Jordan Shipley who had a big return in the first week against Dallas to set up the Bengals only touchdown in the game.
The team is getting where they need to be and they're looking good doing it. They get better each week and have steady progression. They need to work on the penalties and limiting mistakes and they will be ready for New England in week one. They have two more weeks to get ready and then its off to face the Patriots for a start of an epic season to come.