Doc's Morning Line: 10 things from Bengals win over Raiders

Paul Daugherty
Cincinnati Enquirer

We wake up this morning to the warmth of winning. UC dominates, the Men come up large down the stretch and suddenly it’s good to be a fan of the locals. Healthy, even.           

We’ll get to UC and Tuesday’s weekly judgment day, but first, a few bon mots (lookitup, Pierre) about the 6-4 Bengals:       

They’re back in the driver’s seat. Rather, a driver’s seat, shared with the 7-3 Ravens, assuming Lamar Jackson returns from his mystery “illness’’ this Sunday. This is subject to change, of course, and comes with the weekly disclaimer, “Anyone who believes anything is a sure thing in the NFL is a fool.’’         

The biggest reason is health. Cincinnati has it, across the board. No other North team does. After Sunday, only Tyler Boyd looked to be less than OK, and he plays a position where the Men are stacked. It was almost possible to feel sorry for the Stillers Sunday night. Their defense was ruined by hurt before the game with the Chargers even began. Imagine the Bengals without Bates, Hubbard and whoever you’d like to compare to TJ Watt.

I’ll see your Tyler Huntley and raise you a Mason Rudolph. Baker Mayfield’s body looks like a 6-day old banana. B-more has a Pro Bowl injury list. If the Bengals can stay relatively well, they should stay in the playoff photo.

Without further ado:

TEN THINGS FROM 32-13. . .

1.     Props to Cincinnati for using a 5th-round pick on a kicker, but I’ve never understood why spending a mid-round pick on a place kicker is seen as such a daring move. Kickers win and lose more games than any projected backup offensive lineman ever will. Why is drafting line depth more important than drafting a stud place kicker?

2.    The Leg, aka Evan McPherson, not only made four tries from 50-plus, he made them easily.

3.     I was irritated, again, by the overuse of Joe Mixon, until I wasn’t. Two yards a carry in the 1st half was the tradeoff for a dominant 2nd half that was huge in the win. OGs might recall the Washington Redskins of The Hogs and Joe Gibbs won a Super Bowl using John Riggins that way. Riggo would tenderize a defense at 2 yards a pop for a few quarters, until said defense got tired of tackling his 240-pound self. Then he made his money.

4.    Joe Burrow got smacked around Sunday. The W obscured that fact. That said, it wasn’t all the line’s fault. The back of the Raiders defense played well, the bookend pass rushers Crosby and Ngakoue played even better. Many of the shots Burrow took came after 3-4 seconds, meaning they were coverage-related.

5.     Nice to see Tyler Boyd back on the team.

6.    Are the Raiders the dumbest club in the league? Three times just in the 1st half, boneheaded Vegas penalties revived Bengals drives, leading to 10 gift points. Two conduct calls and one lining up in the neutral zone which, by the way, is the most inexcusable flag in the game. Penalties like those suggest a lack of discipline, which reflects directly on the head coach.

7.    Meantime, the Bengals had one penalty, an offside call with less than 5 minutes to play. They lead the league in fewest penalties.

8.     Ditch the end-around play already. It’s great in theory – look at that Ja’Marr Chase guy run! – but simply doesn’t work. And calling it on 3rd-and-1 really doesn’t work.

9.     I watched Justin Herbert dissect Pittsburgh’s D last night. Those who suggest he’s better than Burrow right now have a good case. Kid ran for 90 yards.

10. Did the Raiders have any wide receivers Sunday? Darren Waller was superb. Moreau caught a TD pass. They’re tight ends.

NOW, ABOUT THE BEARCATS. . . After they demolished a decent SMU team Saturday, I wrote the committee had run out of reasons to exclude Cincinnati from this week’s Final Four. Haters suggested I was dreaming. Maybe. But at this point, excluding UC would smear the cred of the whole enterprise. We’ve already got enough misguided citizens in this country not trusting the voting process.

Plus, do we really know that fans want to see some iteration of Bama-Clemson-Ohio State-etc etc every year? Haven’t the ratings been down? Doesn’t the viewing public see the appeal of a plumber (or a sportswriter) crashing the Cotillion?

The what, Doc?

They can’t put Notre Dame ahead of UC. They shouldn’t put one-loss Michigan ahead of the Bearcats, at least not this week. If the Wolverines beat TOSU at home Saturday, maybe. But that should mean the 2-loss Buckeyes get bumped. Is a one-loss Oklahoma better than a perfect UC?

Can Oklahoma State come out of left field to bump the Bearcats?

We put nothing past ESPN’s favorite football playoff committee. Expecting its members to do what’s right instead of what’s lucrative is optimism at its finest. But what else have we got?

TRIP REPORT. . .  Spent last week at the palatial condo in sunny Bradenton, where everyone is old. Our goal now is to see as much of the west side of the state as possible. Last spring, it was Crystal River to kayak among the manatees, which was very cool. Before that, it was Englewood, Boca Grande and everything else  between Sarasota and Ft. Myers.

This time was Dunedin. I’d been there before, but only once. It’s a diamond in the Tampa-St. Pete megaplex rough. A causeway away from traffic and strip malls and all the junk you try to ignore when you go to Florida seeking paradise. Plus, the town has seven breweries, most within walking distance of each other.

From there it was only a few minutes to sunset on Honeymoon Island, not nearly as remote-feeling as Caladesi, but still a very good beach. TML sez ckout Dunedin.      

We also spent a few hours walking Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. I like wandering in and out of small, independent shops and hitting local breweries. Central was good for that. On the same day, we stopped in Pass-a-Grille for lunch. It’s at the southern end of St. Pete Beach and has retained a middle-class, small-community feel among the beachfront towers.

After decades visiting down there, I can tell you with some authority when to visit that area and when to avoid it like COVID.

VISIT: Labor Day until Thanksgiving. May, until Memorial Day.

AVOID: Any other time. February is getting bad, March is the worst, April is right there. The whole summer is crowded, but not March-April unbearable.

October is the best. Weather won’t smother you, beach traffic is occasionally non-existent. Put it this way: Our place is about 8 miles from the northern end of Longboat Key. Between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, that’s 12-15 minutes. Between Thanksgiving and May 1, it’s an hour. You make the call.

STICK TO SPORTS. . . The Rittenhouse kid didn’t murder anyone, apparently. Well, OK. We should respect the jury’s verdict. It’s how we do things in this country. Or should be. Stay outta trouble, kid. Learn from the break you just got. Make the world a better place. You got a fair shake. The people you killed did not. They’re just dead. 

The verdict didn’t bother me. It was predictable. What bothered me was this:

In America in 2021, it is now permissible for a 17-year-old child to walk down Main Street, USA, brandishing a rifle in the middle of a riot, which he uses to shoot three people and kill two of them. After which he can simply go home to bed. Just another night on the town.  

Then when the jury declares he did nothing wrong, he is applauded by some as a “hero.’’

Vigilante justice, delivered by a child. Yay.

One question: If your child of 17 asked you to drive him or her to the middle of a riot and you knew he/she was packing a weapon to the proceedings, would you see no issues with that?

TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . Something to put a little pep in your step, a little glide in your stride a little hip in your dip. From the all-time best bar band.