Posted: 4:15 p.m.
The Bengals got no points out of the no-huddle offense last Sunday, but don't expect offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski to put it into mothballs for very long.
The Bengals opened with it in the second half and moved the ball from their 22 to the Texans 44 in the first three snaps before tight end Dan Coats coughed it up on a first-down pass that netted six yards. One of those plays was for 15 yards when wide receiver Chad Ochocinco got grabbed and drew an interference penalty in just the kind of matchup Bratkowski was looking for out of the no-huddle.
"We were rolling; we kind of expected it," Bratkowski said. "We went to the no-huddle with the thought of run and pass, get some run games and one-on-one matchups with receivers, and be balanced. It didn't work out that way."
The Bengals, who threw it eight times on the first nine snaps of the second half, didn't give up on the run as much as they ran out of plays to run. With the Texans focusing on stopping the run by putting safeties down low, Bratkowski threw the ball trying to get Houston into more run-friendly defenses.
But on the next series, right tackle Dennis Roland got beat on the edge by Texas rookie end Connor Barwin on third down for the only sack of the game just as quarterback Carson Palmer had a wide-open receiver breaking free. And on the third series, wide receiver Andre Caldwell dropped a third-down pass after the Bengals lost five yards on a screen to running back Cedric Benson on first down.
DEFEND TURF: Somehow the Bengals are 3-0 on the road and 1-2 at home, but it doesn't really surprise Palmer.
"We're definitely a better team on the road. We enjoy playing on the road," he said. "I personally love playing on the road. Different stadium, different atmosphere."
Still, Palmer is 19-15 as a starter at Paul Brown Stadium and 17-20 on the road and he knows it has to change at home: "We need to get out early, score points early and put teams on their heels. We have to find a way to play better at home.
The Bengals used to be a brutal road team. From 1996 until 2002, they never won more than two games in a season. With Palmer as their starting quarterback since 2005, the Bengals are 15-15. Which is where they want to be because it figures the home record is going to be better than 15-13, which is what they are at PBS under Palmer since 2005.
The last time the Bengals lost on back-to-back Sundays at home? 2001.
GREAT SCOTT: Last Sunday's shortened play sheet (the Bengals had the ball for just 23:45 and 53 plays) not only prevented the Bengals from establishing the run, but also figured into rookie running back Bernard Scott not getting carries. And they want to get him carries. In the two games since he had six carries for 41 yards in Cleveland, Scott has had one carry for three yards and none last Sunday.
"We've got to get B. Scott more snaps," Bratkowski said. "We wanted to give him more plays (Sunday), but we had a short play count because we were coming off the field too fast and they were controlling the ball a lot. We couldn't stay on the field long enough to get B. Scott in the game."
Bratkowski admits there is never a perfect time to give the team's bell cow, Benson, a break.
"You want Ced to get into the flow of the game, to get a feel for how the defense is playing," he said. "Sometimes that can be up to 10 carries. Then you get to that point, 'OK, let's make the flip,' but if Ced is really going well and making a lot of yards, then you get to the point, 'Do we really want to make the change now and get Ced out of that?' Or, 'We need to get B. Scott in for a couple of plays.' There's never that perfect time."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» The Bengals did make sure they got wide receiver Laveranues Coles the ball early against the Texans after five games he's looked a bit uncertain about his role in catching 10 balls for a 7.8-yard average.
Palmer's first two passes went to Coles for 15 yards and 18 yards (the first one got wiped out on a penalty), and he caught an eight-yard touchdown pass with some savvy tightroping on the back line before finishing with four catches for 40 yards.
"We felt like we needed to get him going," Bratkowsk said. "We specifically put some things in to kind of get him jump-started. As the season goes on, we kind of need all hands on deck."
» Penalties have crushed the Bengals, particularly on offense. They've got 38 total on the season, which projects to 101 over 16 games after having just 75 last season. The high under Lewis is 110 in 2005 and the average in his six full seasons is 96. Lewis said Monday holding is a point of emphasis and the stats bear it out. There were 196 offensive holding penalties around the NFL in the first five games this season. Last year, it was 160.
The penalties have really hurt the Bengals early in games when they're moving the ball and looking like they're going to get some points. They've had at least one penalty in every game on the first two series except for one drive and that one ended in an interception. That was in Green Bay, where they had a false start and still scored a touchdown on the first drive.
Against the Texans, the Bengals had a hold on left tackle Andrew Whitworth in space on a pass on the first series, and on the second series they had a hold on tight end J.P. Foschi, also in space, and a trip on right guard Bobbie Williams.
Bratkowski said the trip was the most blatant.
"In the course of a game there are similar-type plays that don't get called that the blocks look almost exactly the same and it doesn't get called and there are times they do get called," he said. "A couple of times we got called on a couple of them I'm sure they got called on some the same way. You have to overcome it.
"There was one that was really blatant," he said of the trip. "We talk to the guys. If you're about to lose your guy and the guy shucks you and moves, don't grab him. We have a plan that we want them to do in that case."
Bratkowski said the blocks in space "or detached away from the interior of the line, stand out more and you can see the officials have a much clearer view, especially when the ball is going in that direction."