Stiller 15, Bungals 0 ��. Oct. 15th, 2000 Game #6
Stillers-Bungals Post Game Analysis & Grades:
It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was pretty damned ugly, but the Stillers held on for a sloppy 15-0 win over the winless Bungals. A few positives were evident, but in all too many warts were exposed and too much slop was allowed to promulgate itself the entire game.
1. On the 2nd play from scrimmage, Graham calls an audible and hits Wards on a skinny post about 22 yards downfield, and Ward bounces off the tackler, cuts off a nice Burress block, and dashes to the EZ to complete a 77-yard TD jaunt.
2. Warrick's early 2d quarter reverse of 49 yards, in which half the defense flailed meekly at Warrick.
3. DeWayne & Porter's snuff of the fake FG.
4. The INT & good return by DeWayne.
5. The sack & safety by Joey Porter.
QB: The Graham Reaper started off the game in superb fashion, calling an audible & hitting Ward in the seam with a superb completion that turned into a huge 77-yard TD. Graham did ok on the next drive, and was sitting at 6-for-7 for 121 yards. After that, however, Graham mostly stunk like rotten goat's milk, continually throwing behind receivers. or throwing too high, too low, too late, or just plain too stupidly. Graham was victimized by some shoddy drops of catchable balls, but to start out a game making such a sound completion, and then following it up with play befitting a simpleton in a drunken stupor, is incomprehensible. C-.
RB: Bettis rumbled to another 100-yard game, though it took him a full 29 carries to eclipse the century mark. The push and creases were noticeably smaller today, and Bettis had to really scrap just to get any positive yardage on many a play. There were a few plays in which I felt Bus read the blocks/holes incorrectly and cut the wrong way, but in all this was an acceptable effort by the large-bellied Bettis. Fu was never allowed to carry the ball, and Hunt carried once in mop-up duty for -2. Fu grabbed 2 passes for 1 yard. B+.
FB: Witman had a fairly mediocre day, before leaving early in the 4th quarter with what appears to be a gruesome ankle injury when a player fell into his leg. What perturbed me most about Witman's play, was the 1st & goal sequence in the 3rd quarter. On both 1st & 2nd downs, Witman was the lead blocker on simple Bettis dive plays behind the LG. In both instances, Witman tip-toed into the line with all the speed of a glacier. Finally, on 3rd down Witman acted like an NFL FB and put some mustard into his block, which initially scored a Bettis TD but a holding call on Faneca nullified it. Witman, ever the "sure-handed FB whom the team wants to get the ball to more often", also dropped a 5-yard pass that hit him right in the gut. Fu replaced Witt at FB after the injury and actually threw a couple nice blocks. B-.
WR: This was a day of regression for the development of this WR crew. Ward had 2 grabs, including the 77-yard TD. Shaw had 3 grabs for 36 yards, and nearly made a spectacular catch on a deep flag route, but his 2nd foot was out of bounds when he came down. But Plex and Troy struggled. Burress caught 4 rinky-dink passes for 33 yards, but dropped 3, one of which was a rare on-target throw by Graham was Plex cut wide open over the middle. Burress was also flagged for yet another false start, this time on a simple plunge by Bettis. About the only thing Burress did well all day was throw a key block to spring Ward on the TD play, and draw a PI penalty on a lob throw. Troy dropped a couple, including 1 on a deep stop in which he allowed the ball to go thru his hands, and he ended up hitting the turf hard on this buttbone when he came down empty-handed. Malcolm was actually allowed to play today, but the 2 passes thrown to him were off-target. C.
TE: Breuner caught the one obligatory 5-yard dump-off pass. His blocking was solid. B.
OL: The O-line had another solid effort this week. Sure, the push and crease-making wasn't as good as it'd been the last 2 weeks, but the Bungals spent a lot of time trying to crowd the line, plus with the passing game mis-firing, the offense rarely had a good, sustained march. The pass protection was overall more than acceptable, as Graham was sacked just once, that on a 3rd & short designed rollout. The biggest boners made by the OL were the plethora of dumbassed penalties. Dawson was flagged for holding in the 1st quarter, which nullified an 11-yard Bettis run and effectively killed the drive. In the 3rd quarter, Dawson was flagged for illegal hands to the face, and on the very next play, Gandy was flagged for a hold (which was declined). And on the 3rd & goal 1-yard TD plunge, Faneca unbelievably committed a hold on a play in which the blocker is engaged for about a half-second with a defender. The foolish penalties wipe out what would have been a pretty good grade. C+.
DL: The D-line put together yet another solid performance. Kimo was credited with just 1 tackle, but disrupted at least another 5 or 6 plays. Kimo also deflected a pass. Sullie, Smith, and Henry provided good support, as Dillon had few creases to spurt through. Clancy was guilty of being on the Stillers who pursued Warrick on the reverse and then stood around flatfooted as Warrick veered to his right and added another 20-some yards to the run. B+.
LB: The LB crew again stepped it up and thrashed the opposition with strong play. The LB's really helped put the clamps down on Dillon, who gained a paltry 36 yards on 15 carries. Kirkland was hobbled by 2 bad ankles, but played tough. Holmes helped stuffed the ground game, and also added a couple hard shots on the QB just after he released the ball, as well as a hit on Smith as he was trying to throw a 3rd and 7 completion, which fell harmlessly off-target. Porter had a monster game. He had 3 sacks, a stripped fumble, and a safety off one of the sacks. On that play, Porter got the LT Jones off-balance with the appearance of an inside move, and then dashed around Jones while Jones was ducking at air. Porter also provided the heat & harassment of Mitchell, which produced the poor throw that was INT'd by DeWayne. The one LB who was a spectator the entire day was none other than Jason Gildon. Apparently not pleased at the prospect of joining manhood, Gildon returned to his roots with a fairly apathetic effort. Bungles RT Anderson slapped Gildon about like an angry wife-beater whomping on his frau, and Gildon was never a factor in the entire course of the ballgame. Gildon finished with a whopping 2 tackles, one of which was on the plackicker trying to run a hapless play on a fake FG, and the other on a clear Dong Sack in which Smith had a good 10 seconds back in the pocket before Porter and Sullie flushed Smith to a standing-around Gildon. Jason also got a fumble recovery after Porter stripped Smith, in which Jason just happened to be standing around playing patty-cake with the blocker when the fumble occurred. Gildon also missed a sack of Smith on the 1st Cinci possession; got manhandled on a few Bengal runs up RT; and joined Clancy in standing around flatfooted when Warrick veered right on the long run. Kirk, Earl, and Porter: A+. All other starting LBs: D+.
DB: DeWayne led the way with a spectacular game, getting credit for 10 solo stops and the INT. DeWayne's solo stops were't cheapy stack-jumps, either. DeWayne, time and time again, made clutch, sure-handed textbook tackles of both RBs and receivers. DeWayne also fought off blocks well. The sniff-and-snuff of the WR screen in the 2d quarter was a gem. So was a stop of Warrick on 3rd & 9 in the 2nd qaurter, in which Warrick caught a short crosser but was ensnared by DeWayne for only a 6-yard gain. On the other end of the tackling spectrum was Lee Flowers, who missed at least 6 tackles with tackling form/posture that would be considered shameful for your average 4th grade child. Lee's problem was that his head was consistently DOWN. Chad had good coverage and chipped in with 4 solos. Brent had an INT late in the game. DeWayne, Chad, and Brent: A. Lee: C-.
Spec Teams: Another mixed bag. Kris had a poor KO after the TD, but then actually booted one deep for a TB later in the game. The coverage teams did a pretty good job all day long. Simmons led the way in downing some punts deep in Bengal territory. Hank ripped off a nice 40-yard return, along with a couple solid 10-some yarders. The sour spot was the penalties. Fiala, Vrabel, and Huntley were all flagged, and Huntley's blatant block-to-the-back was so foolishly obvious and jackassed, that the next "Football for Dummies" videotape will include this play as an easy-to-comprehend example of exactly what a clip is. Porter and DeWayne deserve credit for snuffing out the fake FG by forcing the holder to errantly pitch the ball back to the kicker. B.
Off Coord: Only Kevin Gaypride could pull of the remarkable feat of facing one of the worst defenses in pro football, and then setting a team record for number of punts in one game (12). Based on the overt slop we saw all day, perhaps Gilbride has an incentive clause in his contract for setting a team record like this one. Sure, the QB and receivers deserve some of the blame. But Gilbride did nothing to supplement, help, or adjust this stale offense. Neither Fu nor Hunt were ever allowed to carry the ball as a change of pace, until Hunt had 1 carry in mop-up. After the successful big play to Ward, in which the Bungals lost a starting safety, the offense only rarely tested the sieve-like secondary deep, instead playing fiddle-faddle with 4-yard passes. Without question, the gay play o' the day (say that 5 times fast) was the 3rd & 2 (on the Cinci 44) designed rollout by Graham, which appeared to have a run/pass option. With no one open, the bootfooted Graham was hauled down for a short loss. While running some play-action rolls and boots are acceptable with Graham in small doses on 1st and 2nd downs, it's sheer asininity to get so cutesy against a porous defense on 3rd and 2, especially with how oafishly slow Graham is. Some of the blame on this receiving crew must also be pointed toward Gaypride, who ultimately is responsible for the grooming and development of these youngsters. When a WR commits a false start every game and sets a dubious NFL record, it's reasonable to ask the coaching staff a.) why is this occurring and b.) what has been done to rectify this problem? Obviously, since Burress commits a false start every week, the staff has done nothing to correct the deficiency. And when your offense gets the ball to start drives at the Cinci 49, 43, 14, and 36, and you score only 6 points, that's woefully unacceptable. C-.
Def Coord: Lewis did a pretty good job of keeping the heat turned onto Akili Smith. No big plays erupted from poor communication or blown coverages. Give Lewis credit for having enough sense to start using Joey Porter for what Porter does best -- GO AFTER the QB. The sloppy tackling of too many players on too many plays, slightly drops this grade. B.
Head Coach: Cowher will beam with pride after beating what probably is the sorriest team in pro football. Aided by a fluke play for a TD, and a bizarre decision by LeBeau to try a fake FG, Cowher's troops eked out a 15-0 win. It's a bit disappointing to see a team come back home after 2 big road wins to face a weakling foe, and then slop thru a game in which it's biggest endeavor was setting a team record for number of punts. Cowher should be embarrassed, but instead will beam with pride and joy. C.
We'll be inundated on Tuesday with an avalanche of trite cliches from Cowhead�"a win's a win", "we played hard", "we never let up", blah blah blah. While it�s nice to finally beat a sorry Cinci team, it's by no means to impressive, especially if you throw out the TD on the 2nd play from scrimmage and the safety late in the 4th quarter. Take away those 2 plays, and it's a 6-0 nailbiter. Let's hope the team is considerably more prepared and more intense versus Cleveland next week, as it will be entirely shameful to lose the lowly Browns at home for the 2nd straight year.
The Still Mill