Posted on: December 15, 2008 1:21 am

CIN/WAS Footnote: goal-line stand. BAL/PIT

I didn't want to close the book on today's Bengals versus Redskins matchup without giving the Bengals' defense one more pat on the back.

A little more than midway through the third quarter, with the score 17-10 Bengals, the Redskins had the ball second-and-goal at the Bengals'  1 yard line. Mike Sellers ran the ball up the middle into a pile of players with 6:27 left in the quarter for what looked to be a touchdown. But wait! Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who has typically been hesitant to throw the challenge flag this season, dropped one to challenge whether Sellers had broken the plane of the goal with the ball before he was down on the play. After consideration, the ruling was reversed, with the referee saying Sellers' knee was down before he extended the ball over the goal line. The Redskins went to third-and-goal at the 1/4-yard line.

On third down, the Redskins ran Sellers up the middle again, into a pile of players again, and, in the process of descending through that pile of players, still working to find the goal line, the ball was literally taken out of Sellers' hands by Bengals' linebacker Corey Mays. A fumble, turnover and touchback was ruled for the Bengals. But wait! Redskins head coach Jim Zorn challenged this ruling, believing the ball had broken the plane of the goal before Mays took the ball out of Sellers' hands. The call on the field was upheld, and the Bengals took over on their own 20.

In the fourth quarter, the teams would trade field goals, but that would be the rest of the scoring for the game. If not for the goal line stand, this game could have gone to overtime. Congrats to the Bengals' defense on the first goal-line stand. Congrats to the D on the second goal-line stand and particularly to Corey Mays for the takeaway. Congrats to the officials for getting the calls right on both plays. And congrats to Marvin Lewis for winning two challenges today, including this one.

Around the AFC North . . .

Steelers versus Ravens -- This game was all it was billed to be. These two teams beat each others' brains out for a full 60 minutes, with the Steelers coming out on top 13-9, after a controversial call on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes with less than a minute left in the game. With the win, the Steelers nab their second consecutive AFC North championship, grab a first-round playoff bye, and force the Ravens to continue their fight for a wild card bid. The Steelers travel to play the Titans next Sunday, and the Ravens play the Cowboys at Dallas in a Saturday night matchup.

Browns versus Eagles -- The Browns line up against the Eagles in Philadelphia in the Monday night matchup.

Posted on: November 16, 2008 8:17 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2008 10:05 am

Bengals let Eagles off hook, settle for tie--II

The Bengals should have won this game, the first NFL tie in six  years. The defense held Brian Westbrook to just 60 rushing yards and 11 receiving yards, a key to stopping the Eagles' offensive attack. I was fairly sure Westbrook would put up 100+ on the ground. Too bad the Bengals couldn't make this achievement stand up on its own, but that unfortunately fails to account for Donovan McNabb.

The defensive line could not consistently pressure McNabb. Safety Chris Crocker, a defensive standout for the game for the Bengals, got a sack, and so did defensive end Robert Geathers, but that was not enough to stop McNabb from going 28 of 58 for 339 yards and a touchdown. McNabb also threw three interceptions, which the Bengals were able to turn into 10 points, but those were mistakes by McNabb with a Bengals defender in the right place at the right time. McNabb threw to 10 different receivers, three of them for 60+ yards each. So, even with the three interceptions, McNabb was the difference in this game for the Eagles.

There were more than a few opportunities for the Bengals to score and finish this one off, but the offense just couldn't quite get it done. Ryan Fitzpatrick played well, hitting 29 of 44 for 261 yards and a touchdown to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Housh had 12 catches for 149 yards and the TD. And Fitz did not throw an interception today! On the disappointing side, Cedric Benson ran the ball 23 times for 42 yards. Chris Perry and Kenny Watson had a combined two carries for 5 yards, and Perry was absolutely horrible on his one and only reception, a failed screen pass for -4 yards.

Dropped balls didn't help the Bengals effort either, with more than one receiver giving up easily catchable balls. I noted in another thread that Fitz wasn't a very good back-up to Carson Palmer. He has improved every time out, but still has not played what I would consider a "complete" game. Just a little more from him today could have put the Bengals over the top. Maybe that little more could have come from a few more catches by the receivers.

Can't say much for their play calling either. The Bengals are very predictable on the offensive side of the ball, which seems to handicap them regularly. And clock management ruined a potential fake punt play, which resulted in a delay of game call instead.

For the Bengals, a tie is almost as good as a win. The team avoided their typical late-game letdown. The defense stayed in it for four quarters. Too bad the offense couldn't back it up again. It shouldn't have come down to a 47-yard field goal attempt by Shayne Graham. Graham had already put up 6 points in the game, and they should have at least been able to get him a little closer.

Now the Bengals head to Pittsburgh for a Thursday night game against the Steelers. Can't wait to see the line on this one!

Around the AFC North . . .

--Speaking of the Steelers, they just pulled out a squeaker against the Chargers 11-10, the first time in NFL history a game has ended in that score. Ben Roethlisberger had his sixth career 300-yard game in the victory. The Steelers' next game is against the Bengals at Pittsburgh this Thursday night.

--The Ravens lost to the Giants 30-10. I thought this game would be much closer, but it looks as if somebody finally solved the run defense of the Ravens, with Ahmad Bradshaw getting nine carries for 96 yards and Brandon Jacobs getting 11 carries for 73 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens have Philadelphia at home next Sunday.

--The Browns play the Bills tomorrow night at Buffalo in the Monday Night feature.

Posted on: November 12, 2008 8:51 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2008 11:21 pm

Eagles vs. Bengals -- By The Numbers

Here are the head-to-head stats from CBS on the Eagles versus Bengals matchup this Sunday

Points/Game -- Eagles 28/Bengals 14

Passing Yards/Game -- Eagles 262/Bengals 151

Rushing Yards/Game -- Eagles 98/Bengals 87

Points Allowed/Game -- Eagles 20/Bengals 26

Passing Yards Allowed/Game -- Eagles 190/Bengals 194

Rushing Yards Allowed/Game -- Eagles 103/Bengals 138

Total Offense -- Eagles 361/Bengals 238

Total Defense -- Eagles 294/Bengals 331

The Bengals, on average, are showing about 125 yards less in total offense per game than the Eagles. The two are close in passing yards allowed per game, but the Bengals give up about 35 yards more rushing yards on average. The Eagles also are showing over 100 more passing yards on average per game than the Bengals, while the per-game rushing stat for both teams is near 100 yards.

The Bengals will need every bit of yardage their passing game can generate. If Cedric Benson is able to perform this week like he did last week, it may open the passing game enough to get those passing yards. They need to stay tight on the run and clamp down on the pass on defense to have a shot at winning this game. I said earlier this week (http://www.sportsline.com/mcc/blogs
)  that the Bengals CAN win this game. I'm just not sure they will.

The line CBS uses has this game now at the Eagles by 9.


--The CBS line has the Giants by 6 1/2 over the Ravens.

--The CBS line has the Steelers by 4 1/2 over the Chargers.

--The CBS line has the Bills by 5 over the Browns on Monday night.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com