The Bengals have always had talent, but they could never quite produce. I don’t know why, they have easily one of the best QB WR tandems in the league with Palmer and Chad (I refuse to call him “Ochocinco,” even though I like his antics. He’ll always just be Chad Johnson). Even at the ripe ages of 30 and 33 they are dominant. Carson has 15 touchdowns in 6 games, and Chad owns 4 of them with 350 yards. He may not be a stat machine persay, but he can kill you on any given play.
My problem was that they had started to put it together. The Bengals were sitting pretty at 4-2, and I had to figure out if I thought Wright or Thurmond III could cover ol’ Ocho better than the other. Maybe even Fabian Washington? Of course, shading a safety would be a must. I would have to take Chad out of the equation somehow, but I felt like I’d have a better chance at stopping Carson from giving the ball to him, rather than actually locking him down.
Offensively, we could hold our own. Our running game was given a slight boost because their sophomore linbacker-freak-human AJ Edds was out. He was very fast and had a huge frame at 6’4 244. Plus Quinn had come on like no other, sporting a 96.3 rating, he had thrown for 1700 yards, 18 TD’s and 6 picks. This might be his break out year. Allen/Dwyer/Crenshaw were doing well, collectively rushing 450 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season, and Crenshaw was doing great on the Return game.
Not everything was happy in Cleveland though. Despite leading the team in receptions and yards, Braylon Edwards was a little disgruntled. He had nearly 550 yards, but only had 2 touchdowns. I heard some grumblings about him wanting more touchdowns and looks inside the redzone. While Braylon was a favorite target of Brady’s, Quinn often looked to Massaqoui or Rucker inside the 10. Rucker had only 185 yards but a team leading, and tight end second most, five touchdowns.
I had to figure out how legit these Bengals were.
Starting with the ball, we had a few running plays before our first play, a quick slant. Quinn hit Braylon, who caught it, but got rocked. The ball jarred loose and our sideline assumed it was a drop, while everyone else, refs included, said fumble. The Bengals got the ball at our 24. The replay booth liked the call, because my challenge was turned down.
So now we’re faced with holding the rejuvinated Bengals out of the endzone with 25 yards to go. And we did just that, we held them to a field goal (which BARELY got inside the uprights) and were prepped to get the ball back. But we turn around and turn it over again. Brady, falling off his back foot because of the all out blitz, throws it to Braylon again, except the corner jumps the route and gets tackled, leading to another field goal.
So that quickly we’re down 6-0. It could be 14-0, so I needed to count my blessings.
First play after getting the ball back, again, Brady was sacked for 8 yards. And it looked painful. I decided to try to counter the blitz with a halfback screen, which got us back to the original line of scrimmage, and then some. Then I ran a WR screen for 16 yards. They sniffed out the third screen, which led me to believe they’d be a little more honest with the blitzing. But I was wrong. They only sent one guy each time, but it was enough to get us flustered. Their man coverage was oddly enough very efficient, which led us to a punt. We got them down to 3rd and 8, and then Chad Johnson BURNT us on a post, luckily Ward was able to catch up and drop him at our 22. They dink and dime it down to our 2 where they set up for ANOTHER field goal.
I was getting pretty upset at our offense, because you can’t blame a defense that has played 5 of the 7 minutes played so far ((remember this is Madden time :P)). But ‘lo and behold, Andre Crenshaw is able to sneak through the line and block the kick as he is tackled at our eight. The sideline explodes in what I hope was brewing momentum, I sent out the offense to make a huge play. We had two plays for 20 yards each, then Quinn threw another pick on a Schilens drop. It was going to be a long game…
“Heads or tails?”
“It is tails, and Cincinnati will elect to receive.”
I thought we could definitely stand a chance, especially when we got them to third down and eight, but they converted. Edgerrin James had been tearing us up, with an average of 5 yards on 20 carries. He would continue killing us until we were blitzing 6 or 7 players at a time. They caught us blitzing and penalized us for it, by a 40 yard pass to Chad Johnson, again. They settled for a field goal instead of the TD, and they won. 16-13.
Cleveland Browns 13 @ Cincinnati Bengals 16