Bengals offer little resistance

The Cincinnati Bengals must have read the quotes from Pittsburgh Steelers safety Anthony Smith about how he was going to light them up if they came across the middle.

I have never seen a less-inspired effort from a group of wideouts in my 15 years of covering the NFL.

Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry could not have played a weaker game than the one they played here Sunday night.

At one point, Henry laid down like a baby getting ready to take a nap after catching a pass over the middle with Smith bearing down on him.

And Cincinnati's last offensive play of the game was Johnson backing out of bounds for a 13-yard gain rather than fighting for extra yardage when the Bengals needed 17 yards on fourth down to keep their fading hopes alive.

I guess Johnson was just trying to get an early start on his offseason, while Henry, apparently, is only a tough guy when he's got a gun in his hands.

© Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer may throw a prettier pass, but I'll take Ben Roethlisberger on my team anytime over Palmer.

Don't get me wrong, Palmer is a good quarterback. But Roethlisberger is a great football player.

The next time Palmer drops his shoulder and dives into the end zone from four yards out to score, going over a defender to get there, let me know.

© Upon first glance, I didn't think Roethlisberger's dive reached the end zone. But the replay clearly showed him getting in.

© The Steelers had a lot of success against the Bengals by rushing three and dropping eight into coverage.

That won't work next week against New England.

The key to beating the Patriots is putting pressure on Tom Brady and forcing him out of his comfort zone. He's way too accurate and patient to allow him to sit back and look for the open receiver.

© Look for the Patriots to employ a similar game plan to the one they did in 2002 against the Steelers when they came out and didn't even attempt to run the ball.

© I know, we're supposed to be talking about the Cincinnati game here, but I'm just getting a jump on the national media, who will begin hyping the Pittsburgh-New England game immediately after the Patriots put the Ravens away Monday night.

That moment will come when New England scores its first points because there's no way Baltimore's popgun offense will be able to keep up.

What the Ravens may be able to do is soften the Patriots up a little bit.

If Bill Belichick starts going for fourth-and-twos up 21 or more points in the second half against Ray Lewis and company, I wouldn't be surprised to see somebody in a silver helmet come up with a knee injury.

The Ravens may not be very good this season, but they still have a lot of pride.

© Tyrone Carter has played well in place of strong safety Troy Polamalu, Max Starks was admirable in his replacement of left tackle Marvel Smith and Cedrick Wilson and Nate Washington were OK in place of wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

There, we gave those guys the praise the deserve for filling in for injured starters the past two weeks.

But the Steelers will need all of their starters when they line up to play the Patriots.

Word is, all will be ready to go Sunday.

© Najeh Davenport apparently had some numbness in his foot in the hours leading up to Sunday's game, which was why he was inactive and rookie Gary Russell got a shot to play.

© Roethlisberger pass to Hines Ward during the Steelers' final touchdown drive, zipping the ball in between two defenders, was a thing of beauty.

So was Ward holding onto the ball after getting popped. Ward and Madieu Williams collided so hard that Williams was throwing up behind the Cincinnati – while Ward was catching a touchdown pass to finish off the drive.

If the Cincinnati receivers weren't taking notes on how to go over the middle, they should have been.

I guarantee when Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis watches that tape, he's going to want to throw up like Williams did.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

Steel City Insider Top Stories