I took notes on the Bengals-Lions as I watched, but this time since I wasn't in "real time", I took the opportunity to stop, rewind, pause, and replay plays. I also got to stop the game to finish thoughts as they were occurring. The end result? It took me over an hour and a half just to get through the first quarter. Since it is so late, the other quarters will have to come tomorrow, and Thursday (The DF79 Free League FFB drafts Wed Evening). Just as a warning, due to time constraints, they may not be as in depth as what you are about to read. Onto the First Quarter!
Lions win the toss - KOR Cason back to receive. Bobbles. Too bad, as a decent wedge broke up to come back and try to help as he fumbled it onto the ground. He does recover and pick up a few. Not impressed by special teams again so far. I really hope the coverage unit looks better than that or Stan Kwan will be looking for a job.
Lions 0. First Series
1. 1:10 Bomb to CJ. Bengals brought 4 plus a late rusher keying into an expected first down run with a run blitz involving the S or a LB - can't tell which. CJ was single covered, but the 5 step drop, and great protection by the oline gave Kitna plenty of time to let the play develop, CJ get open. Nice blocking by K. Smith in at RB as the starter as well.
2. 1:10 K. Smith run. Small cutback lane closes almost as soon as it opens, but Smith manages to slip through, hitting the hole hard picking up three. he managed to pick up yards, even after the first hit which is what he excelled at in college, and is translating to the pros. We also didn't see it at all from Bell last week. The Oline wasn't spectacular in run blocking, but look a lot better than last week's opening drive. Smith looks as good against the one's as he did the 2's last week. If they keep running him, expect a few long gains as he finds daylight once or twice.
2. 2:7 Penalty Roy - obvious push off. Good protection by the line, Kitna had time the penalty was stupid and totally unnecessary. Roy had time to get open without the shove.
3. 2:17 Bet they run it here with Smith on a draw or similar play up the middle. Bingo! GAPING hole. Bengals cheated pass and looks like...Raiola and Peterman opened up the initial hole. Mulitalo was totally free, Smith was patient and stutter stepped to let Mulitalo get into the next level - and level two more Bengals on the downfield blocking -- about 7-10 yard upfield to the right as smith cuts around him to pick up about 10 more. Got to be close to the first down. Beautiful job by Raiola and Peterman initially, followed by Mulitalo's hustle to get up field and knock out a couple more guys. This line is really starting to get aggressive, and I like it. Got to be really close to a first down here...
4. 3:1 Run again, but I think there was a miscommunication as Felton goes one way, Smith the other right into a Bengal bursting through the line. Very disappointing. they MUST, same problem as last week/last season, start converting on 3rd down. Big Improvement? At least it was 3rd and one -- AFTER a 10 yard penalty.
While I'm sure they'll punt here (coverage teams need work and eval) what they have done on this drive with the gash in the running game will force open the outside passing lanes. They know that not only WILL the Lions run it, they know that they CAN run it -- for big gains. BTW - Nice play by Keith Rivers of the Bengals cutting in and stuffing the play.
5. 4:1 Punt. Wonder if Kwan improved coverage teams -- O'Neal is a well above average returner. Downed inside the 1? I think there is a penalty down. Either way, he wouldn't have gotten far as there were Furrey and about 4 other blue jerseys all over down there. I'll reserve judgement until I see them try to tackle someone, but this looks promising. [note - Furrey stepped OB and was first to touch the ball, so the Bengals get it at the 20. Still, far cry from the mid-30's Giants were starting at last week. And it was a nice punt. If they can do that consistently, they will keep trapping teams inside the 20, making for an easier time on the D.]
1. 1:10 Chris Perry Run. Goes right up the middle. Bengals line has a lot more "beef" than the Lions Dline. Perry pulls off a nice run. By the look of the line, I think they might get one or two more of those tonight, but not much more than that against the starting D. I get the feeling they will match, and eventually overtake, the ferocity of the Bengal's Oline and turn it back at them. However, with this focus on the run, we'll get to see how the revamped secondary does. Still, only a gain of 6.
2. 2:4 Short out, 3 step drop. Short throws are still killing the Lions. However, I was surprised on the replay to see that I think DeVries was getting to Palmer as he threw. If they didn't do a quick pass, it would likely had no chance at all. If the Lions can keep up that kind of pressure, and starting hitting Palmer as he throws -- even if he gets his passes off, he is going to be rattled. Especially if they keep doing it on these short throws.
Side thought as I stop the game. If the Dline keeps playing this style, they will have a better game than stats. No tackles, sacks, etc. but the pressure they are bringing will make all the difference. They are starting to find their groove on the Dline, and in the D. Not quite there yet, but I think they are starting to rattle him and he's going to start hurrying throws a little soon. I fully expect the revamped secondary to take full advantage of this and come up with a pick or two.
3. 1:10 Perry runs right at Redding and finds out why Redding is a franchise DT. Pick-up of one.
4. 2:9 (32 yd line) B. Kelly breaks up the pass to C. Johnson on a slant route as the Bengals take to the air. Great breakup by B. Kelly, but on the replay, I noticed that Alexander had to pull up to avoid a late hit when he saw the ball bounce out as he was coming in fast and hard to lay a hit on Johnson. Johnson would have been hard pressed to hang onto that ball with Alexander laying the wood on him and Kelly in his face, especially had he bobbled it trying to control it a moment or so longer, versus losing control.
I stop the game again to note that I am very impressed by the speed of the Lions D. They seem to be everywhere at once. The style/aggression with which Alexander is playing reminds me of Bob Sanders (Indy) -- only sturdier.
5. 3:9 Wow! About to comment on Bengals being in 3rd and long, and hoping the shotgun will keep Palmer safe when but DeVries comes around into his face and GREAT PLAY by Kelly. Very veteran savvy move. As Johnson comes down with the flashy catch, Kelly hammers him and when he realizes he's going down, instead of pile driving him he stays standing and just uses both hands to strip/rip the ball away before Johnson is down. Nice job putting the Cincy O in a 3rd and 9 -- even their good runs were about 6 yards, so you got the feeling they were going to pass it.
Darn. With Johnson down I bet all you read about is his stupid injury, and that when mentioned with the INT will make it seem like he got hurt forcing the INT -- when it was EXACTLY the OPPOSITE. The INT really caused the injury. Don't care what/how you've read it, Kelly hit Johnson to take him down, and took the ball and was heading upfield before Johnson injured himself hitting the ground. Kelly was almost 5 yds away at that point having a nice INT return. Him getting injured had nothing to do with the INT, and doesn't change the fact that the Lions D stopped the Bengals' starters cold before Johnson went out. Sure it will be spun that way, but don't believe it.