The Cincinnati Bengals faced the struggling Carolina Panthers in a forgettable game. It was the first start for Notre Dame alum Jimmy Clausen, facing a prior-USC era quarterback. In the most pathetic outing of Palmer's career, Carson came away with a win on the scoreboard and a loss by three-tenths of a point in the quarterback rating column. The final between QBs—Clausen 53.6, Palmer 53.3.
Once again, the defense stepped up after a miserable opening to the season in New England against a rookie quarterback getting a harsh introduction to the life in the NFL.
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Carson Palmer would get picked off twice in the first quarter alone. Based upon which game recap you read, Carson served up at least 3 more lame ducks that should have been intercepted.
Palmer would pull off his own rookie performance, allowing the clock to run out instead of getting the field goal unit on to help cushion the lead (though the O-line would play their own role, but more on that later..).
By the end of the day, rain was a big member of the blame game as weather conditions invoked memories of a wild-card, wild-arm against the Jets last season.
The Bengals defense was back. A slow start against the run was quickly erased when Jimmy Clausen fumbled a snap on the first drive. What could have been a promising start went up in smoke from there as the Bengals' defense poured it on. One sack, one interception, and three fumble recoveries would be the understatement of the day as the Bengals defense won the game along with the third phase...
...with the game ball going to the dynamic duo of kicker Mike Nungent and the Ken Huber.
Nungent would connect from 33 and 50 yards to run his perfect field goal conversions to eight.
Meanwhile, Huber would kick 5 of 6 punts inside the twenty with three of those being inside the 5.
Cedric Benson would return to carry 27 times for 81 yards (3 yard average per carry) with one rushing touchdown and receiving his first passing touchdown.
Gresham that is. Jermaine would explode for 4 receptions 59 yards, which included a scampering 27 yard pick up which include a recovery from a shoe-string tackle attempt to run wild down the field to keep a drive alive.
TO and Ocho (a.k.a. Batman and Robin) could not get started. With Ocho doubled for all of the game and TO to be jointly doubled as time went on, the dynamic duo looked like the frustrated bums from Coming to America (remember Randolph and Mortimer anyone?). So far even an injured Antonio Bryant would not have been any different and may have been equal on the production side with a proper prosthetic.
In all seriousness, this is not TO and Ocho's issue. Carson is having trouble hitting the broadside of a barn (though if they wear the opposition's uniform there is a good chance he will be able to) and the overall play calling is circumspect to predictability. This one-dimensional offense needs to add the second dimension (short pass game inside) that it sorely missed last season in order to open up the run and the long pass before the big boys start playing on the other side of the line
With a shocking sit down of Andre Smith (last year's poor pick over Michael Oher... P.S. Smith! At this rate you will never get a movie that inspires anybody except one of those Lifetime channel specials that make you want to kill yourself should you be held against your will to watch), the offensive line struggled once again in breaking up a scoring opportunity at the end of the first half when Dennis Roland pulled off a false start, forcing Palmer to spend the last timeout, and even throwing off the veteran QB in making a disaster of a play call that would squander a given opportunity. Kyle Cook would draw a flag showing that yet again, one of the centers cannot do his job (even though Harris had one as well, it was nothing compared to the long-snapping disaster early last season). Overall, protection is circumspect and the future does not forebode well.
Despite not having Antwan Odom and Adam "Pacman" Jones, the Bengals defense showed that Mike Zimmer had gone back to smash mouth football and despite not quite being challenged enough, the defense now has a great chance to recover for next week when a team a notch up faces the Bengals in Cleveland.
To re-iterate, a "surprised" Andre Smith was sidelined again. No word on why but not much imagination is need, I imagine....
The results this week did not bring much comfort the Bengals' faithful. While the 36 minutes and 22 seconds of game clock which the Bengals' offense held the ball was amazing, what the offense, specifically the quarterback, did with the ball during that time was what has Bengals' nation worried.
Considering the strong performance of the Browns in Baltimore and last seasons' valiant effort by the team on the lake up north, a rabid opponent is either going to have the Bengals squeaking through another week, finding it's footing, or giving up a spectacular (not for the Bengals) upset.
The questions are:
- Is Palmer still injured physically or is it a mental issue? (Too many injuries, too much fear, too little confidence?) Or has Carson hit an early expiration point?
- Will the offensive line step up at all? The running offense is sputtering though Benson is making the most of his little opportunities. Andre GET WITH THE PROGRAM!!!! Glad your agent can talk for you, eventually maybe your game will too!
- Offensive coordination??? Is Bob Bratkowski spectacularly under-prepared or better yet unoriginal? Why call so many sideline passes with the slot and tight end occupied by two very strong rookies? Where is the downfield game? How does an offense still struggle to produce with four defenders covering your top two receivers at the same time!??!? If you have 7 on 8, there is room to exploit the defense. Is Bob holding back like he seemingly did last year in Week 17 at the Jets only to destroy his team psychologically?
Marvin Lewis is talking less and apparently has his team on media lock down but fan sentiment, which bewilders Lewis is this: now that we have the right to expect victory, what are you giving us?
Nobody is giving up on the Bengals and Marvin is the consumate professional but time to call a spade a spade. Maybe the court of public opinion is not the place to make it happen but if Andre Smith can be called out, you need to make a better case for why the rest of the team is being protected (including you Bobby Bratkowski.)