The Bengals have been taking a lot of heat from the media this week for their lack of passing and big play ability. Critics were questioning
For the second time this year the Bengals unexpectedly lost someone from within the organization. In week five Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer lost his wife and the team was emotionally hit hard for their coach. This past week wide receiver Chris Henry lost his life in an automobile accident. Henry has had his share of ups and downs as a player and a person. He was well known in the media for his off-the-field transgressions (being arrested several times) but he was a huge asset on the field. It also appeared that he was a big asset in the locker room as many of the players spoke very highly of him as a person. Even team owner Mike Brown had a soft spot for Henry and gave him numerous chances to straighten out his personal problems that had become a distraction to the team. It seemed as if he had gotten himself on the right track over the past year. He stopped hanging out with the people who where getting into trouble with him and started focusing on his kids and fiancée. He had even recently tried to contact former Bengal John Thornton about starting his own charity organization.
Chris Henry was injured back in Week 8 when he broke his arm in a game against the Ravens. He has been sorely missed on the field as critics have pointed to his absence as one the reason for Carson Palmer's struggles in the passing game. Henry didn’t make a lot of catches but he was a big threat and demanded a lot of attention form opposing defenses. That attention was a big factor in opening up the field for the other receivers. When Henry was catching balls it was usually a big catch. For his career he averaged over 15 yards per catch and one of every six catches was for a touchdown.
The Bengals honored their fallen teammate by where a number 15 sticker on the back of their helmets. Chad Ochocinco said earlier in the week that he was going to where Henry’s jersey in the game this week and the Players Union said that they would cover any fines the league would issue to
On the opening drive of the game the Chargers looked to be in complete control. They used running back Ladainian Tomlinson on several plays and the Bengals didn’t look to have a way to stop him. The drive ended on a three yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates. But the Bengals answered back. They marched down the field and even though they were held to a field goal, it was apparent that they weren’t going to back down to the red hot Chargers. At the start of the second quarter
The Bengals hung right with the Chargers and went into halftime trailing 14-13.
About the time we thought the Bengals were done the defense stepped up and made a big play. Linebacker Keith Rivers intercepted a Philip Rivers pass at the Chargers 34 yard line. Prior to taking the field Carson was seen on the sideline yelling at his offensive teammates. It appeared that he was doing his job as captain and trying to get them focused on the job. They did not let him down as they took the interception and turned it into a touchdown.
The defense did their job again and forced the Chargers to punt. The Bengals got the ball back with 7 minutes to go at their own 5 yard line. I started to get the feeling that they could make the comeback as they had in the games earlier in the season. They moved the ball down the field with ease until they got the Chargers 19 yard line. That’s when one of the craziest plays of the season happened.
Unfortunately the tie didn’t hold up. The Chargers were able to move the ball down the field in the last minute to set up the game winning field goal from 54 yards out with 3 seconds to go. It was a disappointing loss for the Bengals. The Bengals were unable to secure the division title and were knocked out of contention for a bye week in the playoffs. As disappointing as it was the
But the playoffs are still not a lock. The Bengals have lost two straight and the Ravens have pulled to within one game of the division lead with two weeks to go. The Bengals have a good opportunity to clinch the division this week with the 3-11 Kansas City Chiefs coming to town. The Bengals are 13.5 point favorites but I’m not going to chalk it up just yet. The Bengals are 9-5 right now and six of those wins came against division opponents. The other three wins came against NFC North teams. They have yet to beat an AFC team outside of their division. The Bengals can’t afford to back into the playoffs and will have to make a statement at home against the Chiefs.
The Chiefs are fresh off a loss to the pathetic Cleveland Browns. In that game the Chiefs gave up 286 rushing yards to running back Jerome Harrison, who is an average back at best. I am sure that Cedric Benson will be licking his chops to play this team. Not to mention former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson will most likely be begging to get a shot at his old team. Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel had a big game throwing for 331 yards and two touchdowns but the Bengals secondary is much better than the Browns. I look for the Bengals to come out and run all over Chiefs in a 24-14 win (okay, I am going to chalk it up).
Since the team has been on the road the past two weeks the tailgate crew is ready to get back to business. Even though they have lost two straight we will be there backing up our guys with a rowdy group. The forecast right now calls for a high of 33 and a chance of flurries. Sounds like awesome football weather to me. We will have the heater going this weekend as well as some spicy chili so if you are going to the game don’t be afraid to get there early and get warmed up. I am planning a small tribute for Chris Henry and I am sure the team will have one for the home crowd as well. Let’s get everybody out and bring home the AFC North Division title this weekend!!!