The Cincinnati Bengals failed to clinch the AFC North title in Week 10 as they lost to the Minnesota Vikings on the road, 30-10. The game was supposed to provide the inexperienced team with a measuring stick of exactly where it was at as a playoff contended. Unfortunately for Bengals’ fans it did just that.
Corners – Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall continued to play Pro Bowl caliber defense in holding Brett Favre to his lowest quarterback rating of the season.
Rush Defense – If you would have told me that the Bengals would hold Adrian Peterson to less than 100 yards rushing and 3.7 yards per carry before the game, there is no way I would’ve predicted they would lose the game by 20 points. Though it broke down late in the game, but considering they were missing captain Demato Peko I was pleased to see the team’s effort against the run.
Turnovers – The Bengals once again lost the turnover battle (1:0), and only have a plus-1 turnover ratio on the season. It’s going to be hard to win in the playoffs when you can win this battle. The Brian Leonard fumble as the first half winding down was ridiculous and gave the Vikings three points, a two-score advantage, and the momentum heading into the locker room.
Penalties – It’s hard enough to beat the Vikings when you play well, but you give up 85 yards on 11 penalties. Through 11 weeks only three teams in the league have been flagged more frequently. Over the past four games they have been penalized 38 times.
Shayne Graham – The “franchise player” continues to be a weekly fixture in this part of the column. This week it is kickoff ability that once again lands him here. After the terrible finish to the first half, Graham starts the second half by kicking it out of bounds. It wasn’t even close.
Laveranues Coles – Coles showed up on my milk carton this morning as a missing person. He didn’t even get an official target in yesterday’s game and was unable to get any separation against Antoine Winfield. He has just six catches over the past four games and is quickly appearing to be one of the biggest free agent busts in the league this past offseason.
Second-Half Offense – The streak now reaches six games without a second-half touchdown. You are not going to win games against good teams without finding the end zone after halftime.
Passing Game – Carson Palmer completed 15 passes yesterday, but mustered only 94 yards passing. That’s not a typo, 94 freakin’ yards. The offensive line’s pass protection is amongst the worst in the league over the past month and Palmer does not look comfortable. Without Chris Henry, the team has no deep threat and it has led to one of the NFL’s most dismal passing attacks. Since Henry went down the team has managed just 161.8 passing yards per game and just three passing touchdowns in over 20 quarters of football.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“Cincinnati's offense is like watching a lumberjack trying to saw down a Redwood with a butter knife. The Vikings' defense is good, really good, but the Bengals -- other than Benson running like a man on a mission -- made things relatively easy for them by taking no downfield shots in the passing game and showing minimal creativity. It's throwback football for sure, which is fine. But when you fall behind by 16 points against a really good team, throwforward football might come in handy.” – Steve Wyche, NFL.com