It was a weird game when Cincinnati traveled to Atlanta. The Falcons soared to a seemingly unassailable lead by the end of the first half, but some soft coverage and turnovers on offense briefly put them behind.
The third quarter capitulation is perhaps something to be concerned about, but just as much should be taken from how Atlanta rebounded. Under the Jim Mora Jr. regime, the word “adversity” was thrown around a lot, and this team certainly showed it can deal with it.
Bengals: Three performances of note
It didn’t go well for Andre Smith (-7.4) as he looked to cement the right tackle spot as his own. He was always going to surrender some pressure when the Bengals had to pass so much (55 dropbacks), but his sack, hit and six pressures given up just wasn’t good enough. To make matters worse, he committed two penalties and his run blocking was poor. Not a great start.
In better news, the Bengals appear to have struck something resembling gold with Jordan Shipley (+1.4). Forced into a lot of action as the Bengals ran the majority of their plays out of a three-receiver set, Shipley drew a big penalty that resulted in points and caught some tough balls. One nice play that he turned from being a fourth down to a first down sticks out, and he also made a huge play to score a big touchdown. His yardage may be skewed a tad, but he caught all six balls thrown his way in the best performance of his career.
If you give Matt Ryan time, the odds are he will make you pay. So when DL Robert Geathers (-1.6) rushes the passer 29 times, you expect more than just the solitary pressure. Geathers had his struggles last year, and even moving him inside on passing downs isn’t producing any real impact. This game was an example of that and it will be interesting to see if he loses playing time as the year goes on.
Falcons: Three performances of note
Let’s start with the bad. At one point the commentators said that CB Chris Owens (-5.6) had a hell of a game. Hell in a game perhaps. Owens was clearly not up to scratch in this one, with the stats really painting a picture as the Bengals constantly threw comeback routes to expose his fear of getting beat deep. He ended up being thrown at an incredible 20 times, with 17 of those completed for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
On the other hand, this week we got the good John Abraham (+5.6). He ended the day with two sacks, a hit and four quarterback pressures as he terrorized both Bengals tackles. With that in mind, it seems Abraham still has it after his blank against the Eagles in Week 6, remaining one of the league’s premier pass-rushers.
Saving the best for last, step forward Roddy White (+4.4). The fumble was a black spot on his day, but how he bounced back from it (a brilliant grab that was one of four genuinely jaw-dropping catches he had) made his day all the sweeter. It didn’t matter who the Bengals put on him, White was simply unbeatable, gaining separation on near every play in a clinic of top-line receiver play.
We liked what DL Geno Atkins (+2.4) was able to do in the pass game with a hit and two pressures. Less so with Carlos Dunlap (+0.1), but he still got two pressures on. … It was a better day for TE Jermaine Gresham (+0.7) with his run blocking, but in a game where the Bengals passed so much it isn’t a great sign he was targeted only five times and fumbled a ball late on.
With Justin Peelle out for Atlanta, Michael Palmer (+2.0) featured significantly and had a very good day with his run blocking, most notably getting down the field on one play. … The more we see of DT Corey Peters (-3.9), the more it becomes apparent he’s not ready to start just yet. That Browns game owed more to the failings of Eric Steinbach than Peters turning a corner.
Despite a game that featured 80 thrown balls, there were only two dropped passes (by Tony Gonzalez and Chad Ochocinco). … Michael Turner earned 80.49 percent of his yards after contact.