Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Highlights Bengals vs. Ravens NFL Week 9

The Bengals got off to a quick start against the Ravens, and then the defense saved the day. The Bengals offense was awesome in the first half, and for the game out-gained the Ravens 369-215 yards, and 35 of the Raven's came on a meaningless last second play. Coles finished the game as the Bengals top receiver, catching 6 passes for 72 yards, and Ochocinco caught 5 for 66. Cedric Benson had 34 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown, not a great average, but he sure did get stuffed a lot late. Carson finished with a 91.0 passer rating, better than Flacco's 48.3, on 20/33 passing for 224 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals possessed the ball for 40:00 to the Ravens 20:00.

The defense really stepped up with a huge sack before the two minute warning, forcing the Ravens to use their second time out with 2:18 on the clock and a big, long third down facing them. Sacks are huge in 2 minute drills. It was 4-down territory, though, and on 3rd and 19 Flacco was sacked by Geathers.

Video highlights of the Bengals vs. Ravens.

First Half of the Season

The first half of the Bengal's 2009 season is in the books, and Bengal fans everywhere have to be happy with the results. Save for a fluke play against Denver in the opener, the only real dud has been against the Houston Texans, who have proved that they are no slouches this year.

Only serious Bengal Fanatics could have seen a 6-2 record at this point of the year. Even those prognosticators who thought that Cincinnati might challenge for the play-offs this year thought that the Bengals would have to play .500 ball in the first half because of the murderers row they faced, and would clean-up in the second half when the schedule eases a bit.

There are a lot of great story-lines for this version of the Bengals, and a number of surprises. I am almost not sure where to start, but here goes:

#1 The play of the offensive line is number one. The biggest question mark coming into this season was how well the revamped offensive line would play. This question came more into focus as their number one draft pick, number six over-all held out for almost all of training camp, and then broke his foot on the second day of practice. Yet a line with two, sometimes three, college free agents has done a masterful job of protecting Carson Palmer, and opening holes for Cedric Benson. Coach Alexander has done a masterful job working with Kyle Cook, Dennis Roland, Evan Mathis, Nate Livings, Bobbie Williams, and Andrew Whitworth.

#2 The play of the entire defense. There was some thought at the beginning of the season that the addition of Rey Rey, and some of the Free Agents that had been brought in would give the Bengal's defense something it had been missing for quite a while, an identity. This has proven to be true. People are beginning to take notice that the Bengals have a tough, hard hitting, fast defense, that is getting sacks, taking the ball away, and making it hard to score. Coach Zimmer has been a master at taking the mix of young players and veterans and making them a unit.

#3 Cedric Benson, this is a great story, a guy with loads of talent, but untapped, and going to waste. He has given the Bengals a great weapon, and taken the pressure off Carson Palmer. While I think people expected Benson to be good, they did not expect him to be challenging for the top runner in the league.

#4 Chad Ocho-Cinco, I think a lot of people thought Chad was past his prime, that his days as an elite receiver were over. Chad has proven this was not the case. He has been a major weapon in the Bengal's arsenal.

Here are a couple of videos with highlights of the first half of the Cincinnati Bengals' 2009 season.

2009 Cincinnati Bengals Rookies

The 2009 Cincinnati Bengals rookie class may go down as one of the best in the franchises history. What we have seen from Rey Maualuga, Morgan Trent, Kevin Huber, and Michael Johnson have been very positive, and I expect to see great things from Andre Smith, Chase Coffman, and Fui Vakapuna before their careers are done in Cincinnati.

Check out this highlight video of the Cincinnati Bengal 2009 rookie class showing some of their best highlights from College, it includes Andre Smith, Rey Maualuga, Michael Johnson, Chase Coffman.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Final Analysis - ESPN Style

What did ESPN have to say about yesterday's win in Baltimore?

Benson Excells

Cedric Benson said it could be done, and he went out and proved it when he ran for 120 yards, becoming the first player in 40 games to eclipse 100 yards against the Ravens. The Ravens take great pride in holding other team's running games down, and it had been awhile since the Bengals had been able to run on the Ravens, and in the first half they did a fairly decent job, but Benson turned it on in the second half, including a 28-yard TD run in the third quarter. In all Benson rushed 27 times for 120 yards and a touchdown to help the Bengals improve to 3-0 on the road this season.

I think its safe to say that the Bengals running game is back after three seasons where they failed to average four yards per carry. It has been a big problem for the team, and one they kept saying they were going to fix, and finally it looks like they have.

Not only do we have a runner in Benson who can get tough yards, or sprint for the end zone, but we have an offensive line that has stood tall against both Pittsburg and Baltimore. The Raven's top rated run defense had been giving up just 2.6 yards per carry through the first four games, the Bengals however were able to grind out 4.2 yards. Benson was able to hit Baltimore for the longest runs given up this season. Runs of 17 and 28 yards, the last for a touch down.

Someone on the Bengals must have been watching the movie "The Express", because they unveiled a “super unbalanced” offensive line formation about a half dozen times. At times, guard Evan Mathis and a wide receiver were the only players to the left of center Kyle Cook. On the right were right guard Bobbie Williams, both tackles and both tight ends. This formation really seemed to take the Ravens by surprise.

Coach Lewis on his team's running game, “This is a team [Baltimore] that doesn’t give up 100-yard rushers. Believe me, I know that. It’s a tradition, and it’s prideful. What our offensive group and Cedric did today has been unmatched for a long time. It was a big game.”

UPDATE: Who is the NFL’s leading rusher? Cincinnati Bengals tailback Cedric Benson!

That's right Benson is leading the NFL in rushing with 487 yards, ahead of such elite rushers as Adrian Peterson (481) and Chris Johnson (468) through the first five games. Benson has two 100-yard+ games this season, including Sunday’s 120 rushing yards.

ESPN Interviews Chad After the Game

Here is a really good take by ESPN after the Bengal's victory.

It was great that the Bengal's defense could put such effort on the field for Mike Zimmer, who worked through the tragedy of losing his wife.

Amazing Cardiac Cats

It's amazing to say but the surprising Cincinnati Bengals now stand alone atop the AFC North after beating each of their division rivals over the last three weeks. What adds to the amazing story is that the Bengals beat each of these teams by three points, with each winning score coming in the last 30 seconds of the game.

In a game I did not see much to hope for, Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Mike Zimmer, Marvin Lewis, and Chad Ochocinco marched their team into Baltimore to play one of the best teams in the NFL and won. They defeated a very good Ravens. Not only did they beat the Ravens, but in many ways they dominated the game. Yes the 17-14 win was a come-from-behind victory, but watching the game you same the Bengals were running the ball, throwing the ball, and stopping the Ravens. If not for an amazing play by Raven's running back Rice and a pick 6 by Reed, the Ravens were shut down.

Check out some numbers that tell some of the story about the Bengal's victory this week:

* Time of possession - Bengals: 34:19, Ravens: 25:41.
* Rushing yards - Bengals: 142 yards, Ravens: 82 yards.
* Passing yards - Bengals: 261 yards, Ravens: 175 yards.
* Total yards - Bengals: 403 yards, Ravens: 257 yards.

This is what the Bengals defense and offense did against what had been the top-ranked defense and top ranked offense of the 2009 NFL.

And now this win over the Baltimore Ravens put the Bengals in first place in the AFC North.