Week 3 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 24, Chicago Bears 7
What you need to know
After dominating the defenses of Cleveland and Minnesota, many wondered how the Bengals would fare against one of the leagueís better defensive units. Consider their questions emphatically answered. While it did take the Bengals awhile to get it going, they responded in fine fashion to the challenges of Chicago. Where Carson Palmer at one point was seven out of eleven for just 39 yards, he finished by completing nine of his last twelve for 136 yards and two scores.
The yardage was low, but Palmer played a nearly flawless game. Early on, the Bears were shutting everything down and the Bengalsí offense was taking some time to really find a rhythm. Palmer merely took what the defense gave him for much of the first half, and then turned it on in the second. His touchdown passes were things of beauty, with pinpoint accuracy and crisp velocity. Outside of one near interception by Mike Brown, Palmer didnít come close to turning the ball over.
WR Chad Johnson again backed up his boisterous talk, going for 77 yards and two more scores against a very good Bearsí secondary. He gave owners a bit of a scare after leaving the game just before halftime with leg troubles, but he returned in the second half and eventually caught a 40 yard touchdown strike.
RB Rudi Johnson was bottled up for much of the afternoon, but it was no fault of his. The Bears made a concerted effort to shut down the run for most of the game, and thatís exactly what they did. There were almost no holes for Johnson whatsoever.
The Bengalsí defense was incredible yet again. They dominated rookie Kyle Orton in forcing five more interceptions. In doing so, the Bengals became the first NFL team since 1971 to record at least five interceptions in two consecutive games.
Thomas Jones had another fantastic game. Jones again went over 100 yards and added a touchdown run, and generally looked great running the football. Just as important as the quality of Jonesí running is the fact that first round pick Cedric Benson received zero touches, even with the game out of reach.
QB Kyle Orton had a miserable game. His very first pass of the game was intercepted by the Bengalsí Brian Simmons. The interception would set the theme for the day, as Orton was picked off four more times by the Cincinnati defense.
WR Muhsin Muhammad uncharacteristically showed poor hands, with several balls going off his fingertips on what seemed to be relatively catchable passes. There was a steady rain throughout much of the game, which perhaps played into the slippery hands. Still, no other players seemed particularly bothered by the elements.
The Bearsí defense looked great for most of the game, but just ran out of gas at the end. The team was on the field so much that they just looked worn out by the second half. Since the offense could never sustain a drive, the defense was going back on the field after a matter of minutes in many cases. Before they were seemingly drained, however, the Bears looked excellent. At one point, they forced the Bengals into four punts and a turnover in a span of five possessions.
What you ought to know
|QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 16 - 23 - 169 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - -3 - 0|
Palmerís play was simply impeccable. His first touchdown pass of the game was one of the best passes youíre likely to see in the NFL this season. Palmer hit a streaking Chad Johnson in between two Bears' defenders (Mike Brown and Charles Tillman) perfectly for the score. Following the score, the Bearsí defense really clamped down. When Palmer had time to throw, the receivers just didnít seem to be getting open. And when the receivers were open, Palmer had pressure in his face in the form of Adewale Ogunleye. Rather than trying to force something, Palmer simply took what the defense gave, which wasnít much. At one point, Palmer was seven out of eleven for just 39 yards, and 18 of those yards were on the touchdown pass to Johnson. In the second half, the Bengals opened things up a lot more. They began sending receivers deep, and Palmer came close to hooking up with T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a long pass play, but the ball was thrown about a foot too far. Eventually, OT Willie Anderson returned to the game after slight back spasms, and coincidentally or not, the Bengalsí offense began performing again. Palmer showed perfect touch on a 36 yard touchdown to Chris Henry, and later added a 40 yard score to his favorite target, Chad Johnson. At one point on the sidelines, Palmer was seen having his neck worked on, perhaps after stiffening up a bit. He did take many big hits in the first half, which could have contributed to the neck problem. Luckily for Palmer, the neck situation wasnít very serious as it came prior to the Johnson touchdown. So, obviously Palmer was fine. Palmer lost 15 yards passing on two separate plays that were called back due to penalty.
|RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 25 - 84 - 0, Rec: 2 - -2 - 0 (2 targets)|
Johnson fought for every last yard, and had to endure a Bearsí defense that seemed intent on stopping him at all costs. He gave very little production for about 58 minutes, and then broke a 25 yard run at the two minute warning. Johnson was tackled at the three yard line, and the Bengals knelt out the clock from there. Prior to that run, Johnson had carried 24 times for 59 yards. There were several factors for Johnsonís seemingly poor performance. For one, the Bearsí defense is pretty good and there were absolutely no holes anywhere for Johnson to run. A lot of times itís easy to pin a poor statistical performance on the back, but in this case it is doubtful that any RB could have gained much yardage. Secondly, he had to endure Willie Anderson missing portions of the game with back spasms. Upon Andersonís return, Johnson began running much easier. Johnson got one carry from the Chicago two yard line and was stuffed, then was hit for a three yard loss back to the five yard line on the next play.
|RB Chris Perry, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (4 targets)|
Perry was a decent part of the passing game, considering he received four of the 23 passing targets that were doled out. Perry did lose a fumble, which certainly wonít endear him to HC Marvin Lewis, but it is still likely that most of the receiving totals for the Bengalsí backs will go to Perry rather than Rudi Johnson.
|WR Chad Johnson, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0, Rec: 3 - 77 - 2 (5 targets)|
While Johnson wasnít quite as active as in recent weeks, the final stat line says heíll be adding another name to his checklist this week. Johnson caught an 18 yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter, but then disappeared for a long time. The Bengals tried getting him involved on an end around, but he slipped and seemingly hurt his leg. Johnson left for the locker room, and it was unclear if he had turned an ankle or if he was simply cramping again. Luckily, he returned for the second half and was able to make an impact. Coming off the line, Johnson beat CB Jerry Azumah with his first step and was gone for a touchdown. Palmer placed the ball perfectly down the sideline, and Johnson scampered into the end zone for a 40 yard score.
As evidenced with his four receptions on four targets, Henry certainly made the most of his opportunities. Obviously, his major impact in the game was the 36 yard touchdown reception. A credit to Henry is that it was hard to tell at first if it was Henry or Chad Johnson who had scored, since Henryís jersey number ends in Ď5í (just like Johnson) and Henry had beaten his man by a number of steps (just like Johnson).
Houshmandzadeh was actually much more involved than the statistics would indicate. While he didnít record his first ďofficialĒ reception until the mid third quarter, he actually had a 5 yard touchdown in the first half nullified by a holding penalty on Chad Johnson. Of course, it is likely that the player Johnson held would have stopped Houshmandzadeh from scoring, so owners canít complain too much about that one. Houshmandzadeh also did a great job of drawing a long pass interference penalty on Charles Tillman early in the first half, which helped set up Shayne Grahamís field goal. Later, Houshmandzadeh was the target of a Palmer deep ball that was about a foot away from completion. Had it been approximately twelve inches closer to Houshmandzadeh, it is likely heíd have caught it for a 40+ yard gain, minimum. Houshmandzadeh lost fifteen yards receiving on two separate plays that were called back due to penalty, with one being the aforementioned touchdown.
Schobelís role was more blocker than receiver, as evidenced by his two targets.
Graham connected on his only field goal attempt. After three weeks, Graham is quickly gaining steam as one of the top kickers of 2005 considering the offense he plays in.
The Bengals werenít tested much on the ground, because the Bears were rarely close enough to really force the issue running the ball. They held Chicago to 106 total yards on the ground, which is good. Interestingly, it was Thomas Jones garnering all 106 rushing yards. LB David Pollack limped off the field late in the contest, but no further update was given on his condition.
This is an area that the Bengals really excelled. The Cincinnati dominance in this phase of the game is quite obvious simply looking at the stats. Chicago QB Kyle Orton completed less than 50% of his passes for just 149 yards, failed to throw a touchdown, and was intercepted a whopping five times. Cincinnati applied constant pressure on the rookie QB, and never allowed Chicago receivers to gain separation downfield. It was in this aspect of the game that Cincinnati really asserted themselves, and is quite likely the main difference in why the Bengals were able to win this game. CB Deltha OíNeal registered one of the five Cincinnati interceptions, adding to his league-leading total.
|QB Kyle Orton, Pass: 17 - 39 - 149 - 0 TD / 5 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0|
Orton had one of those games that rookie QBs want to just forget about. His very first pass of the game was intercepted by Cincinnati. In Ortonís defense, that one in particular wasnít his fault as it came off of a deflection. Still, there wasnít much excuse for the other four interceptions he threw in the game. He was seemingly trying to do too much and forced the ball into some very tough spots, and it was all too easy for Bengalsí defenders to pick him off. On many occasions, Orton would make a pass that was just a little bit out of reach for his receivers. If it happened once or twice, that would be understandable and acceptable. But it happened far too often, and the announcers openly speculated how long itíd be before veteran Jeff Blake takes over in Chicago.
|RB Thomas Jones, Rush: 27 - 106 - 1, Rec: 5 - 8 - 0 (5 targets)|
Jones didnít have an explosive game, but he got his yards when called upon. He was the lone bright spot for the Chicago offense, going over 100 yards once again and adding a short touchdown run to his ledger as well. Unfortunately for Jones, the Bengals came out of the half on fire and put the Bears down early enough to render the run game obsolete.
Benson, Chicagoís first round draft pick this past April, did not touch the ball in any capacity today. Interestingly enough, even with the Bears obviously on the losing end in the fourth quarter, Benson remained on the sidelines.
Muhammad was clearly the go to guy for Chicago, specifically in the second half when he saw 11 of his 13 targets. Still, despite all of the action late, Muhammad was unable to do much with his targets. And, unlike Mark Bradley and Bobby Wade, Muhammadís reason for a lack of production didnít solely rest on Kyle Orton. Muhammad had several catchable balls go through his hands and off his fingertips, falling for incompletions. It was very uncharacteristic for a player who is widely regarded for having outstanding hands to be missing so many passes.
All of Wadeís action came in the second half, predominantly during garbage time. His only target of the first half resulted in an interception, and Orton didnít look to him again until the second half rolled around. Fumbling three times, losing one, certainly wonít help him get any more playing time.
Bradley was a bit more involved in the offense than usual, seeing nine targets heading in his direction. Still, due to the inexperience of both he and Orton, Bradley wasnít able to do much with those nine targets.
Clark strained his neck in the second quarter and did not return to the game. He has stated it is not supposed to be serious, and the team gave no update on his status for next week.
Doug Brien was booed lustily after missing a 39 yard field goal attempt. Brien hardly has the best job security in the league, and while his spot is not in jeopardy because of this one miss, he certainly could earn himself some points with the coaching staff by making the very makeable kicks.
The Bearsí run defense was awesome for just about the entire game. Rudi Johnson was effectively removed from the game by the fierce front of Chicago, with Brian Urlacher obviously contributing mightily to the effort. Johnsonís lone good run of the game was, incidentally, his last run of the game. Johnson appeared to be bottled up, only to break free from the pile and take the ball down to the three. Prior to that run, Chicago had held Johnson to just 59 yards on 24 carries, an obvious display of dominance.
For a long time, the Bears more than held their own in this phase of the game Ė they dominated. Carson Palmer was being hit pretty frequently, Chad Johnson went almost two quarters between receptions, T.J. Houshmandzadeh didnít record his first reception until the third quarter, and the Bengalsí lead was just 10-0. Then came the second half. With the Bears seemingly worn down defensively from having to be on the field so much, the Bengals took advantage with basically two plays. One, a 36 yard touchdown to Chris Henry. The second, a 40 yard touchdown to Chad Johnson. Charles Tillman did not have a very good game, and was beaten once for a touchdown and once for a long pass interference penalty of 35 yards. S Mike Brown had an opportunity for a big play, but dropped a potential interception at the goal line.