By Tom E. Curran
Saturday night, Carson Palmer was in for three first-quarter series. He led the Bengals to touchdowns on two of them. On the series the Bengals failed to score with Palmer running the show, Cedric Benson got stacked up on a fourth-and-1 running play at the Buffalo 43.
Ultimately, the Bengals lost to Buffalo 35-20. But when the "1s" were in there, the Bengals looked pretty good.
So while we spend our time dissecting the Patriots' performance so far in the preseason, we need to remember that New England's not playing in a vacuum. How well the Pats perform now is not relevant to how well they'll play in November. Everything right now is aimed toward Cincinnati. And what is Cincinnati doing in preparation for the Patriots?
This week, Palmer rebounded from a two-pick performance against the Eagles by going 9-for-11 for 95 yards and two scores. Like the Patriots, the Bengals are indoctrinating a rookie tight end into their offense. Jermaine Gresham, the 21st pick in April's draft, has 10 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown in Cincy's four preseason games. He had four catches for 45 yards and that touchdown on Saturday.
As for T.O.? Pretty good. He's got 12 catches for 143 yards so far in this preseason while Chad Ochocinco's been idling a bit with just 5 catches for 56 yards so far.
Palmer's worst game of the preseason by far came in Cincy's third preseason game against Philadelphia. He led the Bengals offense to four punts, two picks and a touchdown in his seven series. The week before against Denver, Palmer was 12-for-15 and Gresham was his bailout man on third down. Lead back Cedric Benson, meanwhile, has gone for 117 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown.
With the Patriots secondary seemed to struggle with communication last Thursday, the fact Palmer and his offensive allies are on the horizon should put a little more urgency into New England.
Defensively, the Bengals are really outstanding on third down so far, allowing teams to convert on just 24.5 percent of third-down opportunities. But the Bengals have been a little flat at the start, allowing 50 first-half points in their four games.
Cincy wraps up its preseason Thursday against the Colts in Indy. Meanwhile, I'll be taking a quick trip out there this week to get some behind-the-lines info in advance for the opener so stay with us all week.
Hell, stay with us all season. Why not?
Tags: Terrell Owens, Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, cincinnati bengals