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Hobson's Choice: One to savor

Q: I love "Monday Morning Quarterback" from Peter King, but I am getting very tired of his anti-Bengal bias. According to his MMQBTE, the Bengals didn't win the game so much as the Ravens lost it instead. Who didn't make big mistakes on offense? Carson Palmer. Who forced all those fumbles? Bengals' hard hitting. Who made athletic plays on interceptions? Bengals linemen. Which defense played harder with more intensity and athleticism? The Bengals. Which team looked old confused and hurt? Ravens. Who made them that way? The Bengals. Sorry just ranting but PK's Bengal Bias is getting real old.
--James K., New Orleans, LA

JAMES: Amazing. If you didn't watch the game and just read the e-mails, you would have thought they got blown out, 21-3, instead of coming up with one of their most high-profile and important wins since the birth of the Marvin Lewis Renaissance.

I love it, too. Peter is King. But, agreed. All but about 3.7 percent of NFL games are decided by which team makes the fewest mistakes, so this is a win richly earned and well deserved.

Particularly against a Baltimore team that that thrives on intimidating people into mistakes. When is the last time the Bengals came into a game against a feared, swaggering opponent and hit first and kept hitting? There is no such thing as an unforced turnover.

Agreed. It's only one game and nothing has been defined. But the Bengals answered their two most pressing questions after finishing last year 3-6 against winning teams and with a three-game losing streak.

In the one division game they had to have on a big stage, they beat the defending 13-3 champions in a pure clutch game. And their defense showed they can win a game on that big stage.

That's all. No more or less.

But that's pretty big.

Given who it came against at this stage in the season, the impact of the win probably ranks in the tier below the win in Pittsburgh two years ago that won the division.

Plus, how devastating of a loss for the defending champs? Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis knew it was so important that he kept playing with one arm with an injury that could be as serious as a torn triceps muscle.

Q: A great win, pretty or ugly we will take it any way against a division rival. Unfortunately, all of the Bengals opponents have the same scouting report. To beat the Bengals you have to stop Carson and to stop Carson you defense him with the deep cover 2 defense. Is Carson good enough to adjust and throw to the middle more often? If not, it will be a long season.
--Jim, Cincinnati, OH

JIM: The reason the Ravens had success Monday night in the second half defending Palmer (and this is all opinion so I'm not trying to come off like Gary Guru) is not because they ran a Cover 2.

But it's because it was the Ravens Cover 2.

If he's seen plenty of Cover 2 then he must be doing pretty well against it. His career passer rating going into Monday night's game was 91.5 and then he posted triple digits against the best defense in football. So, yeah, I think you can safely say that not only can he adjust, he already has and well enough to go to two Pro Bowls.

The best way to beat a Cover 2 is to run the ball and no one, repeat, no one, runs the ball on Baltimore. The Ravens finished second in the league season against the run, so it's not only the Bengals that have trouble with them.

This fits into other e-mails complaining that the Bengals have enough personnel on offense to be in the top five and wanting to know why not.

Yes, they're right. If they have a healthy speed back in Chris Perry and/or Kenny Irons and an eligible Chris Henry as the third receiver, those are the two dimensions that put them into the top five.

The injuries and suspension at those spots are what has held them back from taking the next step offensively.

And, yes, Tab Perry has to emerge as the No. 3 receiver and, yes, I stand by my "In Praise of Tab," even though he had no catches Monday night. If you want to rip him after four games, please do. But to make a judgment off of one game is just a Tad irresponsible, don't you think?

But getting back to you, Jim, that middle should open up with the running game, and Perry getting into the mix would help as well.

Q: What is the update on Jonathan Joseph and Levi Jones? The offensive line struggled last night and I don't remember seeing Levi on the field. As for Joseph, he was expected to be 100% by the start of the season and then he's out. This D will struggle with Joseph on the sidelines.
--Cody, Columbus

CODY: Have to politely disagree. Any time you hold the Ravens to one sack, the offensive line didn't struggle. And Joseph was on the sideline for only about half the time.

Levi is saying he's healthy but Whitworth continues to play. Lewis hasn't expounded on the reasons but they must feel like they have developed good chemistry since Whitworth took so many snaps at left tackle during the spring and training camp when Jones was rehabbing his knee.

The line kept Palmer pretty clean, hard to do against Baltimore. And, no, they didn't run the ball well and 2.4 yards per carry is unacceptable, but the Ravens gave up 3.3 per carry last season so I'm not sure you can fry the line over that. If they don't hit 120 against Cleveland (29th against the run last year) next week, then, yeah, time to get on them. But they did what you have to do against the Ravens to win.

As for Joseph, you're right. They need him on most of the downs instead of nearly half and it looks like his foot is almost there. And, really, he took a lot of snaps because Monday because he played on most passing downs and he got into the rotation a little bit.

But rookie Leon Hall started in his place and did pretty well with two passes defensed and he showed that physicality they want back there with four tackles and he, Deltha O'Neal, and Joseph covered their men tightly enough that the Ravens were 0-for-5 passing when it was third-and-three or less on a night Baltimore failed to convert 11 of 13 third downs.

Q: It seems that year in and year out cramping in the middle of a game is an issue for the Bengals. Back when I was a kid and played sports (without a paid training staff) it was well known to load up on liquids starting a day or two beforehand. Is the training staff over looking this or do they depend on the players to monitor it on their own? We need to make sure we have starters on the field late in the game.
--Jeff, Huber Heights, OH

JEFF: Here's a postgame quote from Ravens safety Ed Reed: "I take my hat off to those guys, because they fought hard. They had guys cramping just like we did."

The Bengals take hydration quite seriously. Every year at training camp there is a menu-like hydration primer perched on every table where the players eat.

At Paul Brown Stadium, water and Gatorade are available in the locker room and the cafeteria as well as the film room, and it is a constant topic of discussion among the training staff, strength staff, and head coach Marvin Lewis. Lewis, by the way, is obsessed with the subject. When they get on the plane to Cleveland on Saturday, he'll make sure there is as much liquid as jet fuel.

And when they arrive at the hotel, there will be tubs of it at the check-in desk.

Of course, you can lead a horse to water ...

But given what Reed said, and watching other games this past weekend, I think it's fair to say the Bengals aren't the only ones battling cramping in the hot, humid conditions.

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