Week 17 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 3, Kansas City Chiefs 37
What you need to know
The Bengals knew they were already set to be in the playoffs but their place in the playoffs could depend on this match against the Chiefs at Arrowhead stadium. Last week they suffered an embarrassing loss to the Buffalo Bills and so there was considerable concern that they needed to have a good game to show they are ready to be in post-season play. Reports were circulating in the media that that Coach Marvin Lewis had been extremely vocal in his anger after the previous week’s loss and that the team was feeling the heat to perform well.
Unfortunately, Cincinnati did not have a good game on either side of the ball during this contest. It is true that Coach Lewis limited the play of some of their key starters, but that is not enough excuse for the way that Kansas City totally dominated them.
The principal player they missed, of course, was quarterback Carson Palmer. He looked good playing in the first quarter. He was replaced in the second quarter for the remainder of the game by backup Jon Kitna. During warm-ups prior to the game, Palmer was observed reaching for the upper portion of his outside leg. He had completed a pass and he appeared to possibly still be suffering from the groin injury that had hampered him lately. Palmer will be essential if the Bengals are to have any chance of winning any games in the playoffs. Limiting his play, even if it cost Cincinnati any chance to win in this game, was probably the right action to take.
When Kitna came in to replace Palmer, he appeared rusty and unready to handle the quarterback duties. It does not appear he will be able to guide the Bengals to victories as the starter if Palmer has further injury problems.
No part of the Bengals’ game can be held up and given a good grade from this contest. Cincinnati needs to regroup and work hard in the next week. They have the home field advantage in next week’s playoff game against the Steelers, but they achieved that through wins earlier in the year. At this time, the Steelers definitely appear to have better momentum and a better attitude heading into week one of the playoffs.
The Kansas City Chiefs came into this contest knowing they still had a mathematical chance of making the playoffs. Before this weekend, the Chiefs knew that three things must happen. First, the Broncos had to go to San Diego and beat the Chargers. The Chiefs had to defeat the visiting Bengals, and Detroit had to somehow beat Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium. The Broncos took care of the Chargers. Kansas City knew the odds were still against them, but they came out ready to give it their all and they easily defeated the Bengals. It is unfortunate for them that Pittsburgh beat the Lions, eliminating the Chiefs from the playoffs. On this date the Chiefs looked like a team that should have had post season play to still look forward to.
The Chiefs had extra motivation for this game. They had learned one day before that Coach Dick Vermeil was retiring after this season ended. After five seasons in Kansas City, the team did send him out in style with a convincing win over a division-champion, playoff-bound team; in addition to an excellent final season record of ten wins and six losses.
The Chiefs controlled this contest on offense and on defense. The defense completely shut down quarterback Jon Kitna, sacking him once and intercepting him twice. Another called interception (by Warfield) was overturned after an official replay.
Trent Green had close to a perfect day quarterbacking for the Chiefs. He ended up completing over 79% of his passes for 344 yards and one touchdown. Eddie Kennison also had a remarkable game, accumulating 151 yards, which will give him over 1100 yards gained as a receiver for the year.
However, once again the dominant player for the Chiefs was running back Larry Johnson. He enjoyed his ninth straight performance with over 100 yards rushing. Only two players in NFL history have compiled more consecutive 100 yard rushing games. Johnson also set a single season franchise record with a total of 1750 rushing yards despite only starting in nine games this year. His next stop will be the Pro Bowl game in Hawaii. Larry has emerged as one of the top running backs in the league and will be counted on to be a leader for the Chiefs in 2006.
What you ought to know
|QB Jon Kitna, Pass: 13 - 24 - 76 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0|
Kitna had not been in many game situations over the past two years and he looked rusty while he was out there. He has a good resume and has enjoyed success as a quarterback in the league in the past, but he does not appear to be a passer to be counted on in the important upcoming games. He was picked off twice during the game and his passes were often off target.
Palmer played very briefly. He was only in for the first quarter before being pulled in favor of Kitna. Coach Lewis and Palmer claim he could have kept playing but they wanted to ensure his health for the playoffs. Without him in the contest, the Bengals played uninspired.
|RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 10 - 18 - 0, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (1 targets)|
Johnson was held to only 18 yards and never looked in sync. Besides the fact that he will next be playing in a playoff game, his only consolation was that his paltry yardage gave him the highest single season rushing total for his career.
|RB Chris Perry, Rush: 8 - 10 - 0, Rec: 3 - 9 - 0 (4 targets)|
Perry was also unable to get untracked against a strong Kansas City defense. He was held in check and never accounted for any significant results.
Fullback Luchey was not in on very many plays and had no fantasy value.
|WR Chad Johnson, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 4 - 55 - 0 (6 targets)|
Johnson played at a more human level than his fans are accustomed to. He had fair statistics for a normal receiver but was held much below usual expectations for him. A probable disappointment for many fans, and not just Bengals fans, was that Johnson had promised a special celebration after he scored in Kansas City. Johnson is becoming a bit of a fan favorite everywhere with his friendly, entertaining antics following touchdowns. He makes an effort to entertain without insulting fans or opposing players.
Houshmandzadeh and Kitna had trouble linking up. Like all of the Bengals’ players, Houshmandzadeh was restrained from his typical expected productivity.
|WR Tab Perry, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 2 - 0 - 0 (2 targets)|
Perry was unproductive as a receiver, but he may have been one of the brighter performers for the Bengals. He was fairly reliable as a good kickoff returner. With all of the kickoffs made by the Chiefs, Perry successfully converted several opportunities into good gains.
Walter had no receptions and gained no yards during this contest.
Henry was targeted often but he made no receptions during this contest.
Schobel ended up as one of the better receivers for the Bengals. He also fielded one short kickoff. After fielding the ball, he laid on the ground protecting it until he was told by his teammates to get up and run with it.
Stewart was able to help out a little as a secondary tight end. He provided a good target on short routes.
Graham had one strong successful 49 yard field goal attempt at the end of the Bengals’ second drive. It seemed a good start for him and for Cincinnati. However, that was to be Graham’s only attempt for the day.
The Bengals’ rush defense needs to go back to the drawing board. It’s true they were facing one of the league’s best running backs, but they were thoroughly unable to deal with Larry Johnson. Johnson tore through the line easily, compiling over 200 yards and gathering three touchdowns. The Chiefs offensive line controlled the Bengals defensive line. The Bengals will be unlikely to advance after next week if they can not stop the Steelers’ rushers better in their next game.
Cincinnati’s pass defense did not often pressure Trent Green. Green finished with an almost perfect game. Cincinnati ended up with two sacks and no interceptions. They will also need to be much better prepared in their next game.
|QB Trent Green, Pass: 23 - 29 - 344 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - -1 - 0|
He will not be making the trip to Hawaii, but Green looked like he was ready for the Pro Bowl. He usually completed passes when he wanted and where he wanted. He had an excellent running game to keep the passing lanes open and he took advantage of it. He had only one touchdown pass, but he did not need that aspect of his game with the strong performance of Larry Johnson. He targeted seven different players but only three of them were wide receivers.
|RB Larry Johnson, Rush: 26 - 201 - 3, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets)|
It is getting a bit routine to say this, but Larry Johnson had another magnificent performance. He compiled 223 yards with three touchdowns. He put on a clinic of power and speed with 201 yards on the ground. Despite only starting nine games this year, Johnson totaled 1750 yards for the year, a new single season franchise record. He also ran for over 100 yards in his ninth straight game. Only two players in NFL history have had more consecutive 100 yard games. Johnson has established himself as one of the elite running backs in the league as he will now prepare for a Pro Bowl appearance in Hawaii next month.
|RB Dee Brown, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 1 (2 targets)|
Brown made the most of his opportunities receiving the ball. He caught both passes targeted for him from Trent Green. The second catch was an eight yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.
Richardson caught the only ball thrown to him for a good gain and he also contributed often as a rushing and passing blocker.
Kennison had an excellent game. He compiled 151 yards giving him his best total yardage season in Kansas City, with over 1100 yards receiving. Kennison caught almost everything thrown his way. He is a favorite receiver in Kansas City and after a long career; he is established as a strong number one receiver. Kennison even had one excellent punt return after Dante Hall had left the field with an apparent injury to his right arm or shoulder.
Hall had a very good game catching five of the six passes sent his way. He also had a good kickoff return on his only chance. Late in the game, he left the contest after coming up with obvious pain in his left arm or shoulder.
Parker did not contribute as much in this contest as he had been in recent contests. He had one good reception.
Gonzalez was dependable catching passes thrown his way and gaining extra yardage after the catch. Gonzalez’s totals for this game gave him over 900 yards for the year. His touchdown totals were down this year, but he remains one of the best in the league at his position.
After a questionable preseason, Tynes has established himself as one of the more dependable kickers in the league. He was perfect during this contest, successfully converting all three field goal attempts and all four of his extra points attempts.
The Chiefs rush defense was brilliant. They stopped Perry and Rudi Johnson convincingly, holding them to 28 yards on 18 attempts. This would be an excellent game film to bring to spring training next year to show the way they are supposed to play. The Chiefs held the Bengals to only 37 total rushing yards but the most impressive statistic for the defense is that Cincinnati was only able to average 1.7 yards per rushing attempt.
Kansas City’s pass defense performed very well. If they could have come up with this effort and these results on a regular basis, they would be going on to the playoffs next week. However, they don’t normally get the luxury of playing against a seldom used backup quarterback in place of a quarterback of the quality of a Carson Palmer. Hopefully this will be a game they can build on for next year. The defense did occasionally show promise and great strides, but too often this past year, they reverted to their old porous ways. Still there is hope for next year.