View Full Version : CNNSI - Snap Judgments

10-11-2009, 09:13 PM
Some interesting observations from Don Banks regarding the Bungals...

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/w ... index.html (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/don_banks/10/11/snap.judgments/index.html)

No more calls, we have a winner. With apologies to the giddy 5-0 Denver Broncos, the Cincinnati Bengals are officially the surprise team of the NFL's 2009 season after five weeks, and their 17-14 win at Baltimore in an AFC North first-place showdown convinces me of their legitimacy once and for all. Consider this: At 4-1, the Bengals have already matched their victory total from their entire 2008 season (4-11-1).

Facing an Ravens team intent on making someone pay for last week's embittering loss at New England, the Bengals traded punches with Baltimore and then -- as they've done in all four of their victories this season -- found a way to get it done when the game went down to the wire. These Bengals don't do anything easily. All five of their games this season have been decided by seven points or less, and they've won three in row by scoring in the game's final minute. In the process, they've developed a tough, resilient whatever-it-takes mentality, and suddenly their earlier wins at Green Bay and home against Pittsburgh don't seem the least bit fluky.

In beating their third different division opponent by three points in consecutive weeks -- Steelers, at Cleveland, at Baltimore -- the Bengals have proven they're not going to beat themselves like so many Cincinnati squads in the past. And at 4-1 overall, 3-0 in the AFC North, and 3-0 on the road, Marvin Lewis' club has plenty of ceiling room remaining.

The Bengals now return home to Paul Brown Stadium and they won't leave for more than a month. Houston, Chicago and Baltimore all make the trip to Cincinnati in the coming four weeks, with the Bengals' Week 8 bye sandwiched in there as well. Cincinnati doesn't play again on the road until Nov. 15 at Pittsburgh, meaning it has a shot to be 7-1 and maybe even in command of the division by the time its rematch with the Steelers rolls around.

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer did his part once again, hitting receiver Andre Caldwell for the game-winning 20-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining to cap an 80-yard, 11-play drive that began with 2:15 left. But the Bengals defense, playing their hearts out for defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, whose wife, Vikki, died suddenly Thursday night, deserves so much of the credit for this nail-biting win.

Zimmer's unit held Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to just 186 yards passing, picked him off twice and sacked him twice. Baltimore, which had resembled an offensive juggernaut in racing to a 3-0 start this season, produced just 12 first downs, with 82 yards of rushing and 257 total yards. The Ravens were just 3 of 12 on third and fourth downs.

Another reason to believe in the Bengals? They can run the ball, and control the clock. The re-born Cedric Benson continued his renaissance with 120 yards rushing on 27 carries, including a late-third quarter 28-yard touchdown run that gave Cincinnati its first lead at 10-7. That snapped Baltimore's streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher in 39 games, dating to December 2006. Not since the Bengals' Rudi Johnson gouged the Ravens for 114 yards in late November 2005 had Baltimore given up triple digits in rushing against an AFC North opponent.

When you throw in Cincinnati's season-ending three-game winning streak last December, the Bengals have now won seven of their past eight games, and maybe the best thing that ever happened to them was that unlucky Week 1 bounce of the ball at home against Denver. Rather than demoralize them, it served to remind them to play 60 minutes each and every week. For a month now, that every-second-counts approach has been the winning formula for Cincinnati.

10-11-2009, 09:20 PM
And so it begins. The medias love affair with the Bengals.

10-11-2009, 09:33 PM
yawn. talk to me in december. that's the month that determines the playoffs.

10-11-2009, 10:00 PM
Could not agree more. Interesting that the bandwagon is starting to fill up. Give them time, they will begin to implode. They still have ocho stinko on their roster. Enough said.