A few thoughts while fast-forwarding and rewinding through the first half of the Bengals’ 15-10 win over Baltimore.
With Panthers head coach John Fox giving rookie Jimmy Clausen his first NFL start against the Bengals this Sunday in Carolina, the Bengals can only hope he falls into the Brady Quinn-Ken Dorsey-Tyler Thigpen category when it comes to little-used quarterbacks. And not the Bruce Gradkowski-Shaun-Hill-Billy Volek disasters.
And Gradkowski has got them twice for nearly half of his five NFL wins.
If you thought Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer got more aggressive this Sunday against the Ravens, just wait. Zimmer is still fuming he didn’t blitz Gradkowski in the last two minutes in Oakland last year. Specifically that fourth-and-12.
Of course, any game isn’t a cupcake the way the Bengals are playing offense right now, and the Panthers have been known to run and play defense, a dangerous combo for a visiting team. Ask a team with even a playoff-tested quarterback like Joe Flacco.
Clausen has come off the bench in each game and is 7-for-15 for 59 yards, one TD and a pick.
Via ProFootballTalk.com, former NFL VP of officiating Mike Pereira, now with FOX, agrees with the Ravens that the roughing call on Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was ticky-tack.
“He’s got his head low, he’s wrapped and now he’s making a normal tackle,” Pereria said to USA Today.
The Ravens went nuts on the call, particularly middle linebacker Ray Lewis and head coach John Harbaugh and Harbaugh will no doubt hear from the league about what looked to be some kind of physical confrontation.
Lewis griped that the refs put six points on the board for the Bengals because of the roughing call and the Lewis call for tripping Palmer. Lewis claims Palmer simply got his feet tangled with him.
Then it all evened out because the refs cost the Bengals seven points when they didn’t throw a flag on wide receiver Terrell Owens getting absolutely mauled in the end zone. He virtually had his arms pinned, and so, apparently, were the flags.
Speaking of Lewis, running back Cedric Benson’s move on him in the first quarter Sunday won’t make SportsCenter, but it’s a beautiful example of what patience can do for a back. On a third-and-one stretch play to his left, Benson found himself one-on-one with Lewis on the perimeter. They stared each other down like it was the OK Corral until Benson stuttered for an instant, caught Lewis leaning, and then lowered his shoulder to blast by him for five yards.
“I wanted to get him to stop his feet,” Benson said.
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