Observations from the Bengals’ 31-13 win over the New York Giants…
-What the heck just happened? This is the same team that played three straight septic tank games against the Dolphins, Browns and Steelers, then couldn't keep the Broncos' offense off the field and out of the endzone. Now the Bengals go all Globetrotters and drop the defending Super Bowl champs by three scores? Strange days indeed.
-The game was blacked-out locally, forcing me to get creative with my viewing options. It was worth it.
-There truly was a lot to like about this game. Dalton hurls four TD passes (to four different receivers), no interceptions and a QB rating higher than my credit score. The defense was in Eli Manning's flak jacket all day, getting sacks and forcing turnovers. Special teams made a couple big plays, and most surprising, I thought the coaching was fantastic, the exact opposite of the dreadful showings we received for a few games prior to the bye week. Gruden and the offense continued with the uptempo no-huddle offense, abandoning the telegraphed handoffs and keeping the formations and player personnel fresh. I thought Zimmer did a better job of dialing up blitzes (and faking them at times, dropping guys back into coverage) and rotating the defensive line. And I'm always in favor of going for it on 4th & short, especially early in games. Kudos to Marvin Lewis on that. (Also, no stupid challenges. Progress!)
-First drive, Dalton gets A.J. Green involved immediately, hitting him on open routes multiple times. Green's third catch went 56-yards via play action pass for a wide open score. Antrel Rolle was merely heard, not seen.
-The guys at Cincy Jungle break down Green's first series and the ocean he put between himself and his defenders.
-Then there was Mr. Adam Jones. Those who know me are well aware of my affinity (and at times, apologist attitude) toward Pacman. He more than validated it Sunday, running a punt return 68 yards into the redzone to set up Andrew Hawkins' TD catch, and later forcing a third-quarter fumble by Ahmad Bradshaw as the Giants were driving deep into Bengals' territory. Leading 17-6 at the time, Pacman snaked his right hand onto the ball, jarring it from Bradshaw's grip at the 16 before it was recovered by Carlos Dunlap. The punt return was also a shining example of things breaking well for the team (which happens far too rarely), as the initial punt — which bounced out of bounds inside the Bengals' own 20 — was called back on a penalty against the Giants. The special teams unit took advantage of the retry.
-Pacman's big day also aided the existence of this quote.
-The defensive front showed up and went deep in terms of rotation and their production, tallying four sacks (and one fumble in the process) and forcing Eli into a pair of interceptions. Dunlap finished with 1.5 sacks, Geno Atkins was draped on Eli for both interception throws, and Wallace Gillberry (great name) came up with the sack-fumble-recovery trifecta.
-A tip of the cap to Leon Hall, as Victor Cruz managed but three catches on the day for the Giants. Accoring to Pro Football Focus, Cruz was targeted only three times with Hall in coverage, bringing in two of them for just 18 yards.
-”I don’t have anything that I can say that I’m pleased with.” - Tom Coughlin. LOL.
-Doc took a more misanthropic route following this one, though after all these years, you can certainly see where he's coming from.
Things I liked: Any play involving Mohamed Sanu (again), the jump-ball TD pass to Jermaine Gresham, Hawkins in punt coverage, Pat Sims engulfing an interception into his stomach, Dre Kirkpatrick getting snaps on defense, Geno being Geno, Rey Maualuga not being terrible, the O-line allowing zero sacks.
Things I didn't like: Brandon Tate fielding a punt (and fumbling) after Pacman nearly housed the previous one.
Parting Thought: Though the end result may not always be as impressive, this is the gameplan, execution and fire that needs to be seen out of this team every week.
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