November 22, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; General view of the line of scrimmage as Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) stands behind the center during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals had another big comeback victory in sight, until the beaten and bruised secondary was exposed and Carson Palmer led the Cardinals down the field for field goal range and eventually a game winning field goal. The Bengals dropped to 8-2 on the season, but was it as bad as it seemed?
Andy Dalton was spectacular again in the fourth quarter, but this time, unlike last week, he made the big mistake on their last drive, going for the end zone on third and short. It was like he forgot they didn’t have to get it all. Dalton also had a huge fumble in the fourth which led to a field goal to put the Cardinals up 31-21 before the Bengals would get two scores to tie the game at 31.
Carson Palmer overcame two interceptions early on and the Bengals were only able to make them pay for one. Darqueze Dennard was injured, as he replaced Adam Jones, who was out with injury. Shawn Williams want out leaving no relief for George Iloka and Reggie Nelson. The Bengals secondary was exposed in the third quarter for 21 points and then at the end with a Palmer game winning drive.
The Bengals defensive line was held up and down with no calls, but otherwise they were the star of the game. They came up with pressure and big stops, especially in the fourth when they needed it most to come back from being down by 14. Geno Atkins had his best game yet with one sack, two tackles for loss, and one more QB hit.
The penalties are the story though. They Bengals were penalized 10 times for 108 yards. The officials missed not only more than their fair share but made up at least two penalties that I could see. They called illegal block in the back on Kirkpatrick when the hit was to the front and side of the player. Then, a pass interference was called when it was evident that Nelson slipped.
The calls they missed were worse though, A hit to the helmet that went uncalled when A.J. Green was hit on a cross, which would have extended the drive. Holding on the Cardinals offense was blatantly evident, especially with Dunlap getting hooked on a number of plays. Finally, I thought there was a rule to prevent an offensive player leading with the crown of his helmet, when J.J. Nelson exposed his helmet leading it into Reggie Nelson’s, causing concussion concerns.
I am not saying that the refs lost the game for the Bengals or won the game for the Cardinals, but this was the worst game I have watched officiating in a long time. The Bengals and Cardinals both deserved better and so do the fans. The Bengals will need to get much better as they face one of the best defenses in the league, led by Aaron Donald. They will need to be better if they expect to get back in the win column.