46-45, 7-5 this week.
Everything you needed to know about why the Cincinnati Bengals will never get over the hump as long as Marvin Lewis is coaching them reared its ugly head in the second half of a well-played game tonight. The hideous challenge after Mike Wallace’s knee was down, having the best receiver in the game in man coverage the whole night and going deep to him ONCE the whole game, giving up 122 yards on the ground to a fourth-string running back, thinking that two-point conversion was going anywhere other than Heath Miller’s outside shoulder, and running BenJarvus Green-Ellis into the teeth of their front seven when you had multiple chances late in the game to spread them out of their base package and pick them apart all contributed to perhaps the biggest blown game of the year on a national stage. The Bengals were the better team tonight, and they pissed it away. Shame.
Goes the Spoils
If the Giants don’t pay Victor Cruz at some point this season, he should be allowed to get an arbitrator to garnish the wages of Jerry Reese, Tom Couglin, Kevin Gilbride, and Osi Umenyiora, because if he’s not doing what he’s doing for the past year and a half, this thing would have gotten blown up, and none of them would have jobs. Cruz exhibited the tell-tale sign of a great slot receiver: getting defenders so concerned with your lateral agility that they forget you can blow right by them in a straight line, and once AGAIN bailed out the Giants. The play erased a late game sequence that included the one thing you don’t do on offense (stick throws deep in your territory), with the one thing you don’t do on defense (zero blitzing) in the last five minutes of a game you’re leading by more than a field goal. If you think a rookie QB is picking apart a zone defense in a 2-minute drill with those 4 monsters roaring down his throat, you’re watching too many Subway commercials. It’s one thing to trust Eli in the last two minutes. It’s another thing to assume it of him.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a close game on national television show me why both teams aren’t up to snuff. In a game tailor-made for Sanchez apologists like myself, I have to say he blew it. Sure he made some nice throws off play-action and went toe to toe with the big bad 3-3 Patriots, but he made several mistakes that other guys in his position just aren’t making. Forgive me for saying this, but I’ve seen Tebow make that deep right sideline throw on the money, and Sanchez turned it into one of the worst throws I’ve ever seen in my life. Combine that with the criminally stupid sack he took outside of the pocket late in the game, and his outright refusal to tuck the ball away in overtime as he’s being dragged to the turf to live another down, and I don’t see how this one doesn’t go on his head. Mr. GQ has two games to turn this around, before the circus truly comes to town.
New England, however, comes out smelling like anything other than a rose. This team flat out can’t close. Brady is not nearly as good as he’s been on a down to down basis, and Brandon Lloyd has not helped at ALL. The steal of the offseason is lurking as a bust in the shadow of Mario Williams (whose Bills managed to give up 35 at home to the Titans, contributing to their now -56 point differential despite 22 total TDs scored on offense). This was more an indictment of the Patriots as a team with something to prove than it was a moral victory for the Jets.
Monday Night Football
The Lions don’t have a prayer in this one. They can’t gain a yard on the ground, and thusly have a devil of a time gaining a lead, or really any semblence of control of any game they play. Not a good recipe against a contender in their house. Pray for a shootout to keep it interesting. Bears 34, Lions 27.