The first quarter-and-a-half of the game yesterday had me scared that the Bengals weren't ever going to get back to any kind of form. The whole offense seemed kind of out of sync for a while there--but that probably says an awful lot about the quality of Carolina's defense, in all honesty.
The big stories of the game, though:
Only one sack given up by the O-Line. Palmer wasn't given all that much time in the pocket through the whole game, but the fact that he was only sacked once by Carolina speaks to the decrease in the apparent communications on the line. Our boys are improving here. Nice.
The safety position on defense came up huge. Dexter Jackson came back and split time with Kaesviharn. Carolina ran a decent amount and the defense did a pretty good job of containing him. Dexter Jackson is a huge cog in the defense, and the decrease in the rush yardage is an indication of that.
Which isn't to say that Kaesviharn should be left out of the conversation. One of my brothers-in-law is, how should I say this, not a big fan of KK. But in the Bengals two most important games so far this year (Pittsburgh (for some advantage in the division) and Carolina (to snap a losing streak)), Kaesviharn has come up with two interceptions in the end zone to ice games. Huge. He gets beaten badly by good receivers fairly often, but you can count on him to come up big when you need him.
Finally, there's the play. Big play of the day, and something that the Bengals have been missing for the last couple weeks--a huge play that breaks the game. 31 yarder to 85, in a 4th and 1 situation. Amazing, ballsy call. Bordered a trick play. What it represents, though, is something more important: the offense is returning to form. They're starting to fire on all cylinders. I haven't been this happy about a football game in weeks.
The Pittsburgh victory was sweet, but this one confirms to me that we've got an elite team here in Cincinnati. Marvin, sometimes I question you. I shouldn't.