Week 15 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 41, Detroit Lions 17
What you need to know
The Bengals clinched the AFC North with a convincing performance versus the hapless Lions in Detroit. It is the teamís first division title since 1990. Carson Palmer threw touchdown pass number 30 to break Ken Andersonís franchise record. Palmer completed 28 of 39 attempts for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns with two interceptions.
Rudi Johnson beat on the Lion defense early and often with 24 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson does not rush with the grace and elusiveness of some of the other backs in the league, instead he bruises his way, taking on tacklers for two to three yards a clip wearing down defenders. After pounding the defense early, later in the game he breaks off long runs like his 33 yard burst on the Bengals fourth quarter drive against a weakened defense.
Chad Johnson bounced back from his sub par performance last week with 11 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. While the fans in Detroit were anxious to see Johnsonís touchdown celebration they were let down when he simply turned and handed the ball to the linesman after feigning confusion as to which celebration to perform. T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught six balls for 61 yards and a touchdown but suffered a foot injury early in the third quarter and did not return.
The Lions frustrating season continued in front of a home crowd dressed in an awful lot of orange. At the urging of some local radio stations, Lions fans were asked to wear orange to show their disgust with GM Matt Millen.
RW McQuarters took the opening kickoff and proceeded to fumble it away to the Bengals at the Lion 23 yard line leading to a Bengal field goal. An interception by Jeff Garcia on the Lionsí third drive resulted in another Bengal touchdown and a quick first quarter lead of 17Ė0.
Jeff Garcia struggled through three quarters before being replaced by Joey Harrington. On the afternoon Garcia completed 13 of 21 passes for 138 yards. He had one touchdown and three interceptions. Garciaís receivers offered little help as his first interception was a ball bobbled and kept in the air by TE Sean McHugh and what appeared to be a potential touchdown pass to Roy Williams went incomplete when Williams short armed the ball. Harrington led the Lions on a meaningless touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against essentially a prevent defense by the Bengals.
Artose Pinner handled the bulk of the carries with 55 yards on 15 carries. Pinnerís longest run of the day, a 19 yard jaunt, equaled the teams rushing yardage for the first half. With the team always falling behind early, the running game for the team never has the opportunity to get established.
What you ought to know
|QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 28 - 39 - 274 - 3 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0|
Palmer seems to get more comfortable in the no-huddle offense each week. He ran it to precision early leading to score on the Bengals first four possessions, including three touchdown strikes. Palmer broke Ken Andersonís franchise record for touchdowns on a season with his 30 TD of the season when he hit T.J. Houshmandzadeh with a nine yard strike in the second quarter. Palmer finished his afternoon midway through the fourth quarter with 274 yards on 28 of 39 including three touchdowns and two interceptions.
|RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 24 - 117 - 2, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (3 targets)|
Johnson started the game slowly with short gains as the Lion front seven played stout early. But as the game wore on Johnson began breaking tackles and his gains became longer. His bullish style wears on defenders and when he gets to the third level of the defense he becomes very difficult to bring down. He carried the ball 24 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for another 14 yards.
Johnson filled in for the injured Chris Perry, spelling Rudi Johnson when necessary and got the bulk of his carries when the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. He had five carries for ten yards and contributed three catches for three yards.
|WR Chad Johnson, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 11 - 99 - 1 (15 targets)|
Johnson rebounded from last weekís sub par performance catching 11 of the 15 balls thrown in his direction for 99 yards and a touchdown. Johnsonís touchdown came on a one yard toss from Palmer in the corner of the end zone. With the Lion fans and those Bengals fans that made the trip to Detroit anxious for Johnsonís latest celebration, he simply asked a teammate ďWhat do I doĒ, shrugged his shoulders, turned and handed the ball to the linesman who seemed as stunned as everyone else in the building.
Houshmandzadeh had six catches for 61 yards and a touchdown and was on his way to another of his steady games when he was tackled awkwardly early in the third quarter and left with a foot injury.
Washington replaced the inactive Chris Henry and made the most of his activity. He caught four passes for 48 yards including the games first touchdown.
Kelly caught both balls thrown his way for a total of 23 yards.
Schobel had two balls thrown his way and caught them both for a total of 20 yards.
The Bengalsí rush defense held the Lions to 59 yards on 17 attempts. Free safety Kevin Kaesviharn led the Bengals in tackles with six. They held the Lions to 19 rushing yards in the first half and except for a 19 yard run early in the third quarter never allowed the Lions to get moving on the ground.
The pass defense of Bengals limited the Lions to 215 yards through the air. They allowed a touchdown in the second quarter on the Lions best drive of the game as they continue to struggle at times to put pressure on the opposing quarterback. Joe Thornton, Detha OíNeal and Tory James each had an interception. Brian Simmons had the teamís only sack. OíNealís interception, his tenth of the season, sets a new franchise mark.
|QB Jeff Garcia, Pass: 13 - 21 - 138 - 1 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0|
Garcia started the game and was victimized early when a pass to TE Sean McHugh was tipped in the air to Joe Thornton of the Bengals for his first interception. Garcia did manage to engineer a drive late in the first quarter through the second quarter that led to a five yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams. He might have had a second touchdown in the third quarter except his receiver, Roy Williams, made little attempt to go get the well-thrown ball.
Harrington took over for Garcia in the fourth quarter and proceeded to lead the team on a seven play 69 yard touchdown drive. He completed six of seven passes for 77 yards against a relaxed Bengals defense.
Pinner filled in for the injured Kevin Jones (elbow) and ran hard against a strong Bengal front seven. He had 55 yards on 15 carries and three catches for another 18 yards. With the Lions unable to consistently sustain drives and their knack for falling behind early the running game is not a factor.
|RB Shawn Bryson, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (3 targets)|
Bryson had one carry for two yards and one catch for 13 yards.
Vines caught four of the five balls thrown his way for 27 yards.
Rogers caught the three balls thrown his way and turned one from Joey Harrington into a 35 yard touchdown. With Rogers the potential is there but the like others on this team the desire seems to be intermittent. Rogers three catches totaled 71 yards.
Williams had three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown but he should have much more. He short-armed a potential touchdown toss by Jeff Garcia. Williams had a nice leaping catch in coverage in the fourth quarter but often times in this game did not appear to be willing to make the extra effort to get the balls thrown his way.
Williams caught the only ball thrown to him for a nine yard gain.
Pollard caught three balls for 42 yards and finished as the teamís second leading receiver for the game.
The Lions rush defense played strong early but they were worn down as the day progressed. A defense cannot stay on the field as long as this one does and not get tired. Dre Bly led the Lions with ten tackles.
The Lions pass defense allowed three touchdowns and 280 yards passing to the Bengals. Andre Goodman and Dre Bly each had an interception and Shaun Rogers and LeVar Woods contributed a sack each. The Lionsí defense is the victim of an inept offense; the team is consistently on the field and defending a short field due to the offensive mistakes.