For the official record, 65,043 were in attendance at Paul Brown Stadium Saturday night.
Such is the beauty of preseason NFL football. Or in the case of the Bengals, who lost 13-0 to New Orleans in the third preseason game for each team, such is the disgrace. This is a team that with two weeks to go before the regular season opener at Baltimore has more questions than answers associated with it.
"We had some guys who individually did well when we go back and watch the tape but collectively in units we weren't very sharp," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "We need to be a lot sharper. We've got our work cut out for us."
Quarterback Carson Palmer took a physical pounding for the second straight game, leaving for the locker room just before the halftime gun with a bloody nose and cut lip. Palmer left the stadium following Lewis' post-game speech to the team to be taken for further evaluation. He was not available to speak to the media.
Palmer played the entire first half, completing 11 of 16 passes for 105 yards but was sacked three times for 25 yards in losses. Former Bengals safety Kevin Kaesviharn and defensive end Bobby McCray each got Palmer for 1½ sacks, including combining on the final sack that left Palmer bloodied.
Kaesviharn didn't know what had happened to Palmer until the post-game locker room.
"I didn't do that to him," said Kaesviharn.
Palmer was sacked one time and hit on four other occasions in a 27-10 loss against Detroit last week. The Bengals set a franchise record last season by allowing just 17 sacks but the offensive unit has been slow to pick up on various blitzes and stunts the last two games. Kaesviharn came free twice on blitzes when the Saints simply brought more defenders than the Bengals could account for.
"We watched a little bit of film but we wanted to run our stuff, work on our stuff and getting better that's all we concentrated on," said Kaesviharn. "It's still the defensive scheme that allowed me to get in free. You could have put anyone in there and they would have made the same plays. It's just the scheme allowed me to make that play and everyone else doing their job that made my job easier. I don't know if they knew the pressure was coming. They picked up one of us on the two times I came free but they didn't account for me."
The Bengals were shutout in the preseason for the first time since 1999 and the first time ever at home. Kyle Larson punted the first 10 times the Bengals had the ball. On the 11th and final possession Jordan Palmer threw an interception. The Bengals managed just 10 first downs all game while compiling 165 yards of total offense.
New Orleans gained 458 yards and picked up 24 first downs, although the Saints got into the end zone just once. Quarterback Drew Brees threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to another former Bengal, tight end Ronnie Ghent on their second possession of the game for a 10-0 lead.
"It was obviously unbecoming of a Cincinnati Bengals offensive line to play the way we did tonight," said center Eric Ghiaciuc. "The thing is the mistakes we've made are all correctable. Losing stinks, no matter how you look at it. I'm not happy. I'm not going to be happy tonight but when I wake up in the morning I'm going to do the same thing I do after a game; I'm going to come in here and take care of myself, I'm going to watch some film and I'm going to be a professional.
"You can't treat this any different way, whether it's a preseason game or not. If you treat this with less of a sense of urgency than a regular season game then you're going about it the wrong way."
During a visit with to Bengals training camp at Georgetown College three weeks ago NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed his desire to see the NFL reduce the preseason schedule from its current four games. The Bengals did everything in their power to prove Goodell's point.
"I've been quite clear publicly and with our membership that I think the quality of the preseason is not up to NFL standards," said Goodell on Aug. 2.
The Bengals allowed seven pass plays of 20 yards or more against Detroit as well four runs of 10 or more yards. The Saints had four passes of 20 or more yards Saturday night, three of them by Brees. The Saints starter completed 14 of 22 passes for 199 yards and the one touchdown for a passer rating of 108.0.
The Cincinnati defense has been riddled by the three starting quarterbacks it has faced – Brees, Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay and Jon Kitna of Detroit. The trio has completed 26 of 40 passes for 392 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 111.7.