Observations from the Bengals 20-13 win over the San Diego Chargers…
-Winning a late-season road game—on the west coast, against a semi-decent team, keeping yourself in the playoff picture—is no easy pumpkins. Nice victory for the Bengals, regardless of whether it was pretty, ugly, gritty, or whatever. They didn’t flinch.
-If you receive the ball to start the game, it’s tough to cash-in any better than Andy Dalton and the gang did on their first drive. It went 16 plays (most on the season) and drained seven-plus minutes from the clock, galvanized by yet another fourth down conversion and punctuated by a beaut of TD pass to Jermaine Gresham.
-Speaking of fourth down conversions, which we covered a couple weeks ago on the blog, I continue to appreciate Marvin Lewis’s onions in those situations. They won’t convert them all, but the team has benefitted mightily from that bit strategy this season.
-The two questions I would most like to ask Marvin, however: Why does the team wear orange jerseys with white pants instead of black, and why is Brandon Tate on the roster? How many times do we have to watch Tate return a kickoff from nine yards deep in the endzone out to the 12 before he’s benched? Why is he ever out there returning punts instead of Pacman?
-AJ Green had a strong performance (9 catches for 85 yards), but Dalton missed him on two huge plays. He had AJ wiiiidddeee open in the endzone on pass he threw high and outside, and led him a tad too far out of bounds on a deep ball.
-The turnovers were a problem. Dalton’s pick six early came on a terrible pass, clearly misreading the linebacker who dropped into coverage. The second pick was entirely Marvin Jones fault, as the pass when straight through his hands before bouncing off his face. The Jerm’s fumble was costly and something he’s struggled with, but at least it generally happens when he’s fighting for tough extra yards.
-The defense responded again (one TD allowed in three games) with a few forced turnovers and sacks of their own. Carlos Dunlap showed up in a big way, and Wallace Gilberry’s sack gives me an excuse to bring up his killer name again. Bravo to Mr. and Mrs. Gilberry.
-Someone alert the authorities. BenJarvis Green-Ellis is running wild.
–Heady football play by Dalton on his TD scramble. That’s the stuff that makes up for Palmer-esque turnovers.
-Detroit and Baltimore were no help to the Bengals in terms of the playoff picture. The Ravens should be penalized two losses for getting beat at home by Chaz Batch.
Things I liked: Pacman returning punts, the defense remaining stout, Mike Zimmer, Phillip Rivers stomping around like a spoiled child, Andrew Hawkins back on the field, Wallace Gilberry’s name.
Things I didn’t like: Rich Gannon reminding us 40 times that Phillip Rivers doesn’t trust his offensive line, turnovers, Rev. Ced Peerman’s injury, Brandon Tate returning kickoffs, Brandon Tate returning punts, Brandon Tate.
Parting thought: Winning is like make-up, high heels and dim lighting for so-so performances on the football field.