Watched the replay of the game twice today after 20 mg of Benicar. Got a different impression of the game compared to watching it live. Here are some observations:
1. Our defense is really good but so is the Bengals'. Both teams played excellent defense and the difference in the game was they were able to push through on a 4th an short, and we were not.
2. We missed Wilfork as the game wore on and our guys started getting tired of rushing the line to stop the run. Our LB's were awesome, especially Mayo and Spikes. They were pass defending, run-defending, and generally all over the field. But not having big Vince occupying two O linemen wore them down. The DB's also played a very good game. You are not going to stop AJ Green completely but our DB's kept the middle clean and didn't allow too many big plays. Keeping AJ Green restricted to 61 yards is pretty impressive.
3. Even with all that, our defense got the ball back with a couple of minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, it was during a bloody squall. It was near impossible to pass the ball with any accuracy. The timing could not have been worse. We got helped by a couple of dumb penalties by the Bengals but it was hard to sustain the drive. Could we have run the ball more? I believe so.
4. Blount was OK, so was Bolden, but we missed Ridley's slashing runs through the middle. It was a game where we needed all our horses and we were short both Ridley and Vereen. But even then, our YPC was 4.6 versus 4.2 for the Bengals. But we ran less than half the running plays they did - 18 versus 39. This was a perfect game for running, running, and running some more. Out TOP was 25+ minutes versus 34+ for them. Ball control offense won the day.
The fact is that this was a close game. It turned on a couple of plays. On reflection, I feel a lot better about our team. Our running game is strong and we need to trust it more. Our defense is stout and confident and has a bit of swagger we have missed around here for the last few years. Brady will be fine and probably would have at least tied the game at the end if he wasn't playing in a typhoon. At some point, this team will be healthier and get back Gronk, Ridley and Vereen. Amendola will get in rhythm, and the rookies will stop making as many rookie mistakes, especially dropping the tough catches.
The Saints will be tough going forward but if the team can be 7-3 coming into the Denver game, I will be happy.