“Who dey! Who dey! Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?” A blown extra point, a missed field goal, a failed two point conversion, and clock mismanagement couldn’t beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half of Sunday’s game. Neither could the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Trailing 20-9 at the end of the third quarter in a game they should have lost, the Bengals continually overcame the Steelers (and themselves), to pull out the victory. When the Bengals got the ball back with 5:14 left in the fourth, I tweeted, “Carson Palmer for the win…” Five minutes later he delivered. Palmer’s 4th and 2 completion to WR Laveranues Coles for a first down was the first of several big plays. After three consecutive incompletions, the Bengals needed another big play. They got it. Back-up running back, Brian Leonard, made the catch 6 yards short of the first down. Outrunning Steelers linebacker James Farrior, Leonard got within a yard of the first down marker before he was ALMOST brought down. With one arm, Leonard amazingly kept his body off the ground and propelled himself an additional two yards for the first down. After a spike to kill the clock, the Bengals scored. Game over.
Some closing thoughts on the Bengals game-winning drive… One: I thought the Bengals were done after Chad Ochocinco dropped the game winning TD. Yes, the cornerback was there, but a star WR needs to make that play. Two: I thought the Bengals panicked and killed the ball after converting on 4th and 2. I yelled when I saw Carson make the call. With two timeouts and over 45 seconds left, wasting that down wasn’t the right call (Jim Nantz raised this question three downs later). Three: other than the aforementioned spike, Carson Palmer was one cool customer. Four: The Bengals faced a tough decision coming out of training camp. They needed to cut one of their running backs. The final spot came down to Brian Leonard and DeDe Dorsey. The Bengals surprisingly decided to keep both. Leonard’s play on 4th and ten gave his team the opportunity to beat the defending champs. And they say preseason doesn’t matter.
This week my brother-in-law sent me an interesting article from The Wall Street Journal. You can read the entire article here. It essentially argued for coaches to go for it on 4th and short. The author provided success rates and scenario outcomes to defend his argument. Obviously, the WSJ is a respectable news outlet. However, I think they left out two critical aspects of any 4th down attempt. The first is field position. NFL games are often won or lost based on field position. If your offense is constantly starting drives inside their own 20 yard line, they’re in for a very long day. Attempting to go for it on fourth down and failing would give the opponent an opportunity at a short drive. Even if your defense holds, it’s likely they’ll punt and pin your offense deep in your own end. Therefore, instead of having your opponent pinned deep in their own territory, you’ve surrendered points, or at the very least, pinned YOUR offense deep in their own end. Punting and pinning your opponent’s offense is the correct choice. The second aspect the article overlooked is the significance of momentum. Yes, converting a 4th and short is big for an offense. However, converting is not nearly as big as failing to convert. Fourth down stops arguably create the biggest momentum swings in an NFL game. While converting on fourth down is great for extending drives, the payoff is not always worth the momentum change if you were to fail.
Red Zone Turnovers. There were a total of 7 Red Zone Turnovers in week three. While three of them did not play significantly into the outcome of the game, four of them could have been the difference between a loss and a win. *On their first drive of the game, the Miami Dolphins methodically marched down to the San Diego Chargers’ one inch line. On second and goal quarterback Chad Pennington fumbled the ball out of the end zone, giving possession to the Chargers. The Dolphins offense was unable to find that same rhythm for the remainder of the game. *The Houston Texans only needed one more yard to tie the Jacksonville Jaguars. Running back Kris Brown failed to gain that yard with possession of the ball. The Jaguars recovered the fumble and the Texans didn’t touch the ball again. *As he proved last Monday, Payton Manning does not need a lot of possessions to beat you. Well, the Arizona Cardinals turned the ball over to Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the red zone not once, but twice. The first occurred when the Cardinals had the momentum and were gunning for a 10-0 lead. Manning took that extra opportunity and scored a touchdown of his own. Instead of a six or ten point lead, the Cardinals trailed by four. Approaching halftime, the Cardinals desperately needed a score. Warner should have thrown the ball away and played for the next down, but he forced a pass that was intercepted. Instead of going to halftime down 21-10 or 21-6, the score remained 21-3.
That was impressive…
- Patriots’ running back, Fred Taylor, showed why, even at 33, he can still be a tough, mauling running back that grinds away at a defense.
- Their performance was anything but impressive, but those Houston Oiler uniforms the Tennessee Titans wore were stupendous. (That’s a confusing sentence.)
- Speaking of going for it on fourth down, Bill Belichick’s call to go for the first down on 4th and 1 from their own 25 was a gutsy call. The guy is like Dr. House (except he’s short and stumpy). He knows he’s smarter than everyone else and therefore takes risks that none of his peers would dare.
- Did anyone else see Brett Favre throw a block 40 yards down field on Patrick Willis late in the third quarter? I’m not a huge fan, but “hooch is crazy” (for all you Scrubs fans).
- The 49ers are finally seeing some return on investment from TE Vernon Davis. If you throw the ball in his general vicinity, he’ll go up and get it, just ask the Vikings.
- Randy Moss has the best hands in the NFL. He terrorized that Falcons secondary all day long. No touchdowns but he had more impact on that game than any other player.
- Joe Flacco is becoming a STUD.
- Greg Lewis’ improbably game winning catch. G-Love just refuses to exit the NFL.
- Reggie Wayne’s one-handed touchdown grab was a thing of beauty.
- Dwight Freeney throws 300 pound offensive lineman around like rag dolls. He’s the best pass-rusher in the league.
- Mark Sanchez leading the NYJ to a 3-0 record against three projected playoff teams. By the way, he’s a rookie whose college coach said he wasn’t ready for the NFL. Ooops.
- The high-flying New Orleans Saints offense did quite the opposite today. Running all over the Bills defense was the weapon of choice as they racked up 222 rushing yards at 5.8 yards a pop.
- Chicago Bears WR Johnny Knox stopping on a dime and leaving Seahawks LB Aaron Curry grasping for air as he went in for the score.
- It’s not always explosive, but the Denver Broncos offense is efficient and smooth. They win because they do two important things well: They run the football, and they protect it.
- Patriots defense holding the Atlanta Falcons to just 2 first downs and a total of 63 yards in the second half.
- After 643 days, the Detroit Lions are finally winners again.
Not so much…
- The Redskins loss to the lowly Detroit Lions (and their overall 2009 performance thus far).
- After talking trash all week, Seahawks WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh responded with 4 REC for 35 yards and one very crucial fumble in the third quarter. Talk less, play better, TJ.
- Pittsburgh Steelers WR Limas Sweed dropping a perfectly thrown TD pass.
- Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour pulling the hair of Broncos tackle Ryan Clady. You stay classy, Mr. Seymour.
- The Cleveland Browns quarterback situation. Four INTs and 115 passing yards is worse than ugly.
- Falcons RB Michael Turner fumbling while his team was driving for the second consecutive week.
- The Eagles rolling out Kevin Kolb on 4th and 1. Why have all that money invested in the offensive line if you don’t trust them enough to give you a yard when you need it? Andy Reid causes high blood pressure throughout the Philadelphia region.
- Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers trying to get that pesky string of spit to stop hanging from his face-mask. Maybe HD isn’t such a good thing.
- The Patriots need some help in the red zone. That was hard to watch.
- I wrote “Jags fumble away a chance at victory” in my notebook. Four minutes later I wrote, “Texans fumble away chance at victory.” The NFL: you can’t make this stuff up.
- At what point do the Buffalo Bills put out an APB for WR’s Lee Evans and Terrell Owens?
- From my couch, Redskins head coach Jim Zorn looks like the most overmatched, least qualified, and utterly confused coach I’ve seen since the legendary Richie Kotite. It’s comical.
- I wonder why the Buccaneers offense missed the game today. Wait, they were there?
- How do you allow Greg Lewis to make that catch? That’s unacceptable. The 49ers secondary should be ashamed of themselves, especially because we all have to hear of Favre’s greatness for the next week.
- No worries, Olindo Mare (Seahawks kicker), just send me an email and I’ll give you my careerbuilder.com login. I have monster too.
- At 11:39 of the third quarter, Titans QB, Kerry Collins threw a TD pass to WR Nate Washington. Great, right? Yes. Unfortunately, Collins wouldn’t complete another pass for the remainder of the game (other than an interception to Jets linebacker David Harris). Almost an entire half without a completed pass! That is exceptional. Exceptionally bad, but exceptional nonetheless.
Take that man to Chic-Fil-A
QB Payton Manning: 379 YDS, 4 TD, 1 INT
RB Maurice Jones-Drew: 23 Carries, 119 YDS, 3 TD, 4 Rec, 28 YDS
WR Randy Moss: 10 Rec, 116 YDS
WR Santana Moss: 10 Rec, 178 YDS, 1 TD
TE Vernon Davis: 7 Rec, 96 YDS, 2TD
D Giants: Held Buccaneers under 86 Total YDS, 0 Points Allowed, 1 Turnover
Probably should have stayed in bed
QB Derek Anderson: 92 YDS, 3 INT (In just one half) Shout out to JaMarcus Russell
RB Darren McFadden: 12 Carries, 45 YDS, 3 Fumbles (1 Lost)
WR Terrell Owens: 0 Rec, 0 YDS, 0 TD
WR Santonio Holmes: 1 Rec, 16 YDS, Ran wrong route on 3rd Qt. pick six
TE Tony Gonzalex: 1 Rec, 16 YDS
D Redskins: 381 YDS Allowed, Lost to lowly Lions
The Seattle Seahawks should have offered some sort of disclaimer regarding the jerseys they wore on Sunday. My eyes are still burning.
I say it every week and I will say it again. I love the overall contempt division rivals (like the Bengals and Steelers) display for each other on Sundays. Hines Ward and James Joseph going it at for a good 25 seconds on the Steelers sideline was especially enjoyable. Division battles are always must see TV (except for the west divisions).
At 3:57PM ET, I was watching the exciting finishes to the following games: JAC/HOU, TENN/NYJ, SF/MINN, and WASH/DET. The coolest part? I was watching them all on one channel. I love NFL Ticket.
Dear Fox: The robot dude that you pepper us with every week has got to go. Please pull his plug or refuse to recharge his battery. I’ve had enough. Thanks for your time and understanding.
The Eagles and their fans must be excited about TE Brent Celek and WR DeSean Jackson. Celek is a tank and one wrong step against Jackson will cost you six points. Bright futures there.
I really enjoy watching the front seven of the Cincinnati Bengals defense. They are tough, physical and downright nasty. I just hope rookie LB Rey Maualuga isn’t out for too long.
That pass interference penalty on Houston Texan WR Kevin Walter was a joke. The penalty took away the game tying touchdown and ultimately cost the Texans the game as Kris Brown fumbled two plays later.
Do not attempt to kick a FG against the 49ers as the first half ends. The Vikings (today) and the Eagles (last year) both had blocked kicks run back for touchdowns. Ten point swing both times.
Who will win first, the St. Louis Rams or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? My money is on the Rams. I didn’t even look at the schedule. I think the Bucs are just that bad.
Matt Stafford better not get too excited about one win. He’ll need at least four more to claim this season as a success. Good luck.
Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook are an explosive duo. However, they are not as explosive in baseball caps on the sidelines. Rest up, gentlemen.
My favorite part of today was seeing Tom Brady angry, and yelling at his receivers on the sideline. Receivers always yell when they aren’t getting the ball. Brady let his receivers know he was not pleased that they kept screwing up their routes. I liked it. By the way, I thought Brady was going to stare a hole into the back of Joey Galloway’s head. Galloway has been awful thus far.
Larry Johnson anyone? Does anyone know what happened to Larry Johnson? The Kansas City Chiefs have been searching since the beginning of 2007. No luck as of yet.
It’s always fun watching Payton Manning embarrass young, overconfident defensive backs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, you were taken to school tonight, over and over again.
Someone needs to tell Vikings coach Brad Childress that he looks like a fast food drive-through employee with that rinky-dink headset. Did the legit NFL headset irritate that shiny globe of his or was he letting a 12 year-old call the game over the internet for him? I’m siding with the youngster calling the game.
It didn’t end up mattering, but why didn’t the Seahawks accept a penalty that would have made it 2nd and 5 instead of 3rd and 1? At that juncture of the game (1:12 left), you want to avoid 3rd and 4th downs. They ultimately converted on 4th but that could have been a costly mistake.
I was extremely relieved last Monday night when I learned that Jason Bourne’s girlfriend, Marie, was indeed still alive. Her appearance on House must have sent the entire CIA into a panic. Glad you’re safe Marie, glad you’re safe.