Bengals' issues surface in opening loss Print
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Monday, 08 September 2008 13:24
NFL Headline News

 CINCINNATI (AP) -All those preseason issues - Chris Henry returning, Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh sitting - have caught up with the Cincinnati Bengals in a big way.
They weren't all quite there during a 17-10 loss in Baltimore on Sunday, when the defense got pushed around and the offense was Ocho Stinko. The loss was so breathtaking that players still couldn't believe it happened a day later.
``They've got good players on defense, but I just thought we would win the game,'' receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said Monday. ``I didn't think there was no way they could beat us, regardless of how they played on defense.''
They not only beat the Bengals, they made them look bad. Palmer got knocked around while throwing for 99 yards total. A Ravens offense that kept it simple behind rookie quarterback Joe Flacco held onto the ball for the last 7 minutes, 15 seconds of the game.
nizations.
The receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson tried to get himself traded. When that failed, he changed his name in his latest self-promotion. He also skipped the voluntary workouts and missed most of training camp with ankle and shoulder problems.
Houshmandzadeh also stayed home for the voluntary workouts, then missed most of camp with a hamstring injury. Palmer broke his nose in the third preseason game, preventing him from getting much practice time with his two Pro Bowl receivers.
No surprise that the passing game has problems.
Owner Mike Brown's decision to re-sign the troubled Henry also made an impact in the locker room, reminding everyone that coach Marvin Lewis is not in charge. Brown also was criticized for the way he released offensive lineman Willie Anderson, a team leader who was hastily asked to take a pay cut.
In Baltimore, the Bengals looked like a beat-down team.
An offense that prides itself on protecting the quarterback couldn't do anything right. Palmer was sacked twice and knocked down repeatedly as the pass protection, a big problem in the preseason, broke down again.
The Bengals return the same offensive line that gave up only 17 sacks last season. In Baltimore, the pass protection was shredded.
``It was spread out - everybody takes some of the blame,'' Lewis said Monday.
They went 2-of-13 on third-down conversions.
``We got beat,'' said Palmer, who was 10-of-25 with an interception and a passer rating of 35.2. ``We got outplayed. It was just an ugly game offensively.''
The defense wasn't a whole lot better. The Ravens had a simple game plan for Flacco, who handed off and threw short passes. Baltimore scored on Flacco's 38-yard run on a broken play and on receiver Mark Clayton's 42-yard run on a reverse.
The Ravens piled up 358 yards in a basic-as-it-gets attack, running for 229 overall. After Cincinnati's Chris Perry was stopped in the backfield on a fourth-and-1 play, the Ravens took over with 7:15 left and put together a 13-play drive that drained the clock. They ran on all but one of those plays, overpowering a defense that has historically struggled to stop the run.
The Ravens converted three third-down plays to keep the drive going.
``That pierces you,'' Lewis said. ``I've been on the other side of that, but never on this side.
``So that's a bad deal.''
That's a good overall summary of the first game. And, if things don't get a whole lot better fast, it could be the motto for their season. After a home game against Tennessee (1-0) on Sunday, the Bengals enter the tough stretch of their schedule: at the Giants, home against Cleveland, at Dallas, at the Jets, then home against Pittsburgh.
Starting 0-2 would be a bad deal, indeed.
 

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