Sunday, August 24, 2003
Daugherty: Bengals not there yet
It'll take awhile for Marvin to cure Bengal-ness
If you get anything from an NFL August except light in the wallet, you will get it in the first half of the third exhibition game.
The first two games are for sorting out the Cans from the Can'ts.
In the fourth game, nobody who is anybody plays much, because coaches don't want to hear the words "anterior cruciate ligament."
Football in August: If you prefer baseball to the NFL, this could be a reason why.
The Tennessee Titans beat the Bengals 13-7 in the first half Saturday night, partly because the Bengals showed it's going to take more than one honeymoon offseason with Marvin Lewis to rid themselves of who they've been for 12 years.
As Lewis put it, "We played a good football team. We figured out what it takes to win in the NFL."
Cincinnati should have led 14-13 at halftime.
The Bengals looked like a new team on their first drive, until they didn't. They shoved around Tennessee's first-team defense - second in the league against the run last year - for 56 rushing yards.
Peter Warrick's 27-yard run on a reverse was notable, but not remarkable. Remarkable was 340-pound Willie Anderson leading the way, 30 yards downfield, thundering the sod, three big feet ahead of Warrick. It was better than watching monster trucks.
The drive ended with a flashback from the last decade. Someone named Tony Stewart, a tight end, had a Jon Kitna pass hit him in the numbers at the Tennessee 5-yard line, and bounce off like it was allergic to jerseys. Titans corner Andre Dyson caught the carom and returned it 19 yards.
"The adrenaline was pumping," Stewart explained.
Bengal-ness will not go quietly.
Until Saturday night, I thought Tony Stewart was a race car driver. By Tuesday night, he might be.
The Titans turned the turnover into a field goal and added another before Kitna hit Warrick with a 15-yard pass across the middle. Kitna has about a 70 mile-an-hour fastball. He won't stretch many defenses. But he had enough smoke to throw a strike past Titans former Pro Bowl corner Samari Rolle.
Kitna did enough to keep the talk-show freaks from asking for his retirement. (So did his eventual heir, rookie Carson Palmer. After hitting all seven of his throws last week, Palmer's first toss Saturday was also complete, to Tennessee's Dyson.)
Kitna completed 12 of 17 passes for 114 yards. But he was no Steve McNair. The Tennessee QB was almost worth the $54 price of your Club Level seat.
When it still mattered, McNair directed an 80-yard drive in the last three minutes of the first half, looking like October the whole way.
He was 7-of-8 passing, including a 1-yard TD toss on a naked bootleg. After that, in the third quarter, the Bengals looked depressingly like the, um, Bengals. The only positive was that by then, the field was saturated with guys named See You Later.
As Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton explained, "In about a week, nobody's going to care about this."
That's the good news. The bad is, in about a week, things could be about the same. Curing Bengal-ness is not a short-term deal.
Titans 23, Bengals 15
Daugherty: Bengals not there yet
Bengals Q & A
Notes: Newcomers split time at end
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ON THE AIR
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