1. You have to give Marvin Lewis some credit for going for it on 4th and 6 in the fourth quarter. With multiple timeouts left and the two-minute warning available, I probably would have kicked the field goal. Instead, Lewis and company gambled a bit and it paid off, with Andy Dalton completing a pass to Jermaine Gresham that kept the game-winning drive alive. We’ll second guess Lewis at times, but it’s also important to give him credit when he’s right. And yesterday, he was.
2. As good as Brandon Tate is at returning punts, he’s equally bad at making decisions. Tate had a 22-yard punt return, and finished with an average of 14 yards on his three returns (which is very solid), but he also misplayed a couple of others that resulted in poor field position. He’s a human heart attack every time the ball is in the air, making me nervous as to the end result. If the coaches can clean up his decision making, he’ll be a valuable asset. Until then, expect a lot of ups and downs.
3. After struggling a bit on final drives against Denver and San Francisco, Andy Dalton has put together two consecutive fourth-quarter comebacks to get the Bengals to 3-2. One of the biggest things you want to see with a young quarterback is progress, and there’s no doubt Dalton is making it. His teammates are giving him a lot of help, but it’s extremely encouraging to see Dalton remain cool under pressure and perform well when it counts.
4. The defense came up big once again, overcoming a bad call that could have been the difference in the game. Replays showed that there was no doubt that Maurice Jones-Drew’s knee was down on a first-half run that put Jacksonville inside the 10-yard line. The Bengals defense held Jacksonville to a field goal, saving the Jaguars from building a big early lead that would have been difficult to overcome. Cincinnati’s linebacking corps played extremely well and the defensive line rotation (including Frostee Rucker who has a knack for making plays) finished with three sacks. All in all, it was another solid day for a unit that is the unquestioned backbone of this team.
5. Cincinnati avoided a letdown following a big win last week and reached 3-1 in the AFC with yesterday’s victory (sadly, I forgot the Denver loss in my first post). It’s still very early in the season, but the AFC record could be an important tiebreaker when the playoffs arrive. Hopefully, the Bengals can keep it up, starting this week against a Colts team that is desperate for a win. If the Bengals can somehow get into the bye week at 4-2, it’s safe to say they’ve demolished everyone’s expectations.
Extra point: Anyone else love that formation with both Brian Leonard and Bernard Scott in the backfield? Not only did Scott score a touchdown on the play, but it displayed a certain creativity that I think was somewhat absent with Bob Bratkowski at the helm. With Scott and Leonard’s unique abilities, that could be an extremely effective personnel grouping in the red zone. I’d like to see more. Bravo, Jay Gruden. Keep up the good work.