It’s always harder to lose a close game when it was a game that was expected to be lost anyway. Despite the inevitable emotional rollercoaster, the wrench at the end is that you still tell yourself that you knew this would happen; only now its compounded by the insinuation that you knew they’d blow a dead heat instead of simply forecasting the opposing team was better. The reality is if anyone thought this game was going to be as closely played as it was then a rational discussion can be held, because that’s what came to pass. Total yards where nearly identical (CIN 366 / DEN 359) as were those in the air (CIN 299 / DEN 291). Time of possession was also nearly identical (CIN 29:23 / DEN 30:37). At the end of an 8-point game, it came down to special teams’ play – a 105 yard Denver kick-off return for a TD and a missed Cincinnati Field Goal in the closing seconds of the first half.
As stated earlier this week, one of the central goals of this season is to gain overall experience, and in that regard, five things can really be garnered from this match up. Keep in mind: this is Peyton Manning in the backdrop regardless of whatever manifestation he appears. Further, the Broncos may be only 5-3, but with the schedule they are facing, expect thisDenverteam to be the top ranked team in the AFC come play-off time. Consider both as we examine the remains of Sunday.
1. The Offensive Line
On one side of the coin you have the 8th ranked offensive line in the NFL. On the other, you have today. Andre Smith was man-handled by Von Miller, but with respect to Smith, Miller man-handles most offensive tackles. Jeff Faine may be an active leader, and mentor, but as a scab, he is devalued in this regard, almost to the same degree as his ability to defend the pass-rush late in the game. Trevor Robinson may be good in run-blocking, but the shuffle between him and Faine at center was less than ideal, resulting a myriad of difficult to handle low-snaps in the shotgun. Also, since J.J. Watt intercepted Andy Dalton’s throw at the line of scrimmage last year in the AFC Wild Card play-off game againstHouston for a pick-6,Dalton has become the most batted down quarterback in the NFL, something opposing defenses focus on exploiting. Why the Bengals guards and tackles don’t focus on leveling drills that place an end or tackle who puts his arms up square on his back is beyond wonder. Finally, worst and likely to be under-played, was the obscene amount of penalties incurred by the offensive line today. The Bengals where tagged for 8 penalties totaling 83 yards, over half of which was earned by mistakes on the offensive line.