Defense wins championships. Never forget that. The Bengals have been reminded of that for years.
The question for this Bengals season, as it usually is, revolves around the defensive side of the ball. Tonight, the Bengals stepped up and carried this Monday Night clash.
The Baltimore Ravens lost three fumbles in the first quarter alone, giving up a total of six turnovers, including a Steve McNair interception that led to the Bengals go-ahead touchdown.
But what happened to the Bengals offense?
The Bengals offense was effective, but not spectacular, in moving the ball in the first half. Palmer, at times throwing erratically in short distance situations, connected with Chad Johnson on a beautiful touchdown pass. Beyond that, the Bengals looked anemic, with roughly sixty yards passing in the second half, one of which being a Houshmandzadeh touchdown.
The Bengals running game needs to find a jump start to take the pressure off the passing game. Rudi Johnson only picked up fifty yards on eighteen carries. Granted, that was against a very tough Ravens defense, but it was a defense shaken all night with injuries to Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
On the offense, Ravens quarterback Steve McNair felt the pressure of the Bengals aggression, suffering two sacks, coughing up three fumbles, and leaving the game before the Ravens’ final series with groin injuries suffered earlier in the evening.
There were times the Ravens’ offense moved the ball, scoring one offensive touchdown and putting together a few nice series, but the Bengals stepped up and stopped them when push came to shove. The Bengals defense was response for one touchdown on a Landon Johnson fumble recovery, and indirectly responsible for the winning touchdown with a spectacular Robert Geathers interception that he returned to the Ravens’ red zone.
This wasn’t a pretty game for either team, but it was a game in which the Bengals demonstrated it is still a viable threat for the AFC North divisional title. This game also provided a tremendous fuel to an already heated rivalry.
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