The Bengals are halfway home.
With eight games remaining on the schedule their record stood at 6-2 putting them in excellent position to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
Coming off a 21-14 victory over Green Bay, the Bengals led the AFC North division by a slim margin over the Steelers.
Head coach Marvin Lewis finally conceded that his team had “written the script” for a good start. After beginning each of the past two seasons 1-4, the Bengals have reversed their early-season misfortunes.
“We’ve taken care of business when we’ve needed to,” said Lewis. “6-2 is a good record. We’re halfway through. Let’s be better in the second half.”
Four of the final seven games will be played at Paul Brown Stadium beginning with a nationally-televised clash with the Indianapolis Colts (game-time 4:15 p.m.) following this week’s bye.
Here’s the way we see the Bengals’ season thus far:
Lewis has been pleased with Palmer’s performance this season, but he still gets frustrated at times with the Bengals’ third-year QB who has a tendency to shoulder too much of the burden.
It was Palmer’s fumble which cost the Bengals a chance to tie the score or take the lead late in a loss at Jacksonville. He had his worst outing of the season in the biggest game of the year, a week-seven loss to AFC North Division rival Pittsburgh.
Still, Palmer maintained a 104 .1QB rating through eight games with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions and was quickly establishing himself as one of the NFL’s up-and-coming stars at his position.
Ten years of agonizing dedication are finally paying off for Willie Anderson. He addresses reporters following each game with a narrow stream of blood running down his nose. We keep waiting for him to bleed orange.
Anderson, who is listed at 6’ 5” 340-pounds, is the locker-room neighbor of 6’ 4” 340-pound Bobbie Williams. The Bengals locker room leans noticeably in their direction.
Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to have one?
After an injury-riddled rookie season, Perry is finally displaying the ability that convinced the Bengals to make him their top draft choice last year.
Perry’s still learning but isn’t it fun to watch him display the type of turn-the-corner speed that made him a standout at the University of Michigan?
“We play well together,” said cornerback Tory James. “We’ve got some ball-hawks back there.”
Hawks is right. The loss of Madieu Williams hurts but Ifeanyi Ohalete has filled in admirably.
Need further confirmation of Lewis’ astuteness as a NFL head coach?
Remember all those penalties the Bengals were committing early in the season?
That’s good coaching. Identify a problem. Fix it and move on to the next one.
You’ve got to love him. He’s Jerry Rice with a personality. He’s Terrell Owens without the selfishness. He’s Jim Rome’s favorite NFL player. Ok, two out of three are positive.
Johnson has garnered his share of attention from “The List” and his dance moves. Let’s hope the sideshow doesn’t distract from the main attraction.
Has there been a quieter 681 yards in the NFL this season?
While Bengals fans were pressing the panic button following the loss to the Steelers, the Bengals players were all business.
“Good teams don’t lose back-to-back games,” said James following the Bengals’ victory over the Packers. “We worked real hard to come back and win this one.”
The Bengals have yet to lose two consecutive games this season.
The Bengals knew coming into this season that anything short of a playoff appearance would be considered a disappointment.
The difference between them and Bengals teams of the past is that they “expect” to win.
“We can always look back at the Jacksonville and Pittsburgh games and wish we were 8-0,” said Palmer. “But, we’re happy where we are. We’ve got a chance to take the division. We have to keep working to get better but we like where we are.”
The Bengals have executed Lewis’ training camp mantra “Do your job” to the letter.
The Bengals are poised to set the Queen City on its ear. If they haven’t already.