Questioning the defense
Vic Curucci at NFL.com is wondering if either the Bengals or the Colts can win it all after the way their defenses were so vulnerable on Sunday, especially in the first half. The two teams put 62 points on the scoreboard during the first thirty minutes as their offenses pretty much scored at will. It was the second-highest scoring total in a first half in NFL history. Carucci says, "You're tempted to give the benefit of the doubt to the Colts, because they do have a perfect record and their offense simply might be good enough to overcome any further defensive lapses such as the one they had today. But weren't the Colts supposed to have improved their defense in order to be able to withstand those occasions when they don't get the sort of production that Peyton Manning (three touchdown passes) and Edgerrin James (two touchdown runs) had against Cincinnati?"
I think we're going to see lots of people pointing fingers at this topic this
week, which certainly should raise at least one eyebrow of concern.
But take a breath and realize there simply aren't that many offenses around the league with all the offensive personnel talent and level of execution that these two offenses bring to the game. And anyone who's surprised that the Bengals put over 30 points up against the Colts haven't seen Carson Palmer play this year or even bothered to look at his statistics. There are good reasons why some folks are starting to compare him to the Colts quarterback. Manning - Palmer is going to be this era's Marino - Elway matchup.
The Colts listed the following players as inactive for Sunday's game: linebacker Rob Morris, running backs Kory Chapman and Ran Carthon, offensive tackle Kurt Vollers, tight end Ben Hartsock, wide receiver Aaron Moorehead, and defensive linemen Josh Thomas and Darrell Reid.
Here's your must-read column of the day. It's by the Cincinnati Post's Lonnie Wheeler titled Duel of ace QBs calls for an encore. It's one of the better commentary perspectives about the game out there on the web today. He brings to light important points such as the "younger man [Palmer] was not so generously invited to do his thing" as Manning. And he has some wonderful quotes like this one by Chad Johnson who said, "There was some stuff I've never seen before.
"Like on fourth down, the punt team was coming in and Manning looks to the sideline and sends everybody back off. Who does
Quote of the day
"In a game of pinball offense, Peyton Manning showed he's still the greatest wizard of them all. He called the right plays. He made incredible passes. And, ominously, he showed that the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts are just starting to hit their stride." -- Associated Press
Colts the real thing
Ken Murray of the Baltimore Sun wrote, "Two weeks after the Colts exorcised their New England demon, they roughed up the new kids on the playoff block. The Bengals are wanna-be Colts, with enough weapons on hand to give a representative impersonation." Check out his full column, Bengals Impersonate Them Well, But Colts the Real Thing.
Five of the eight teams that started their season with ten or more wins without a loss since the NFL-AFL merger went on to win a Super Bowl.
Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun noted that Colts defense end Dwight Freeney walked off the field on Sunday holding up ten fingers in celebration of their double-digit win streak this season. Has to make you wonder what he'll do if they defeat the Steelers next Monday night, doesn't it? Read Manning Shows Why Their Undefeated for some more good quotes and perspectives.
Marvin Harrison caught his 900th reception yesterday in his 149th NFL game. That's much earlier than future Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, who hit the mark after 168 games -- more than a full season later than Harrison. The Colts receiver was also the fastest player to reach 600, 700 and 800 career receptions.
A tip of the hat to Marvin Lewis
Early in the game, Bengals linebacker Landon Johnson left the game after the Colts were rolling deep into Cincinnati territory. It was a familiar scene for the Colts as teams have seemingly experienced a rash of minor injuries, some of them drawing suspicion as a tactic to get substitutions on the field or get a breather for their team. When I saw this happen, I jumped to the conclusion that the Bengals were following the lead of other teams, which I found very disappointing as I thought head coach Marvin Lewis had more class than that.
While Johnson did come back into the game, the Bengals didn't drop with quickly cured ailments despite a relentless pounding by the Colts offense the rest of the
half. While Lewis obviously knew that other teams were getting away with this
tactic, he obviously wanted no part of it. And I think that sends a tremendous
message to his players. By refusing to have his
players feign injury, he told them that he expects them to win with their talent
and execution. And that's extremely admirable -- and provides yet another reason why the Bengals
are becoming a force to be reckoned with in this league.
Take one story line away
Heading into next Monday night's matchup between the Colts and the Steelers, one story line would have been played up to the hilt; the 10-0 Colts hosting a Steelers team with a 12-game on-the-road winning streak. Well, scratch that one. The Steelers fell to the Ravens in overtime in a 16-13 game that is sure to put some doubt into the minds of the Steelers as they pack their bags for Indianapolis next weekend.