Bengals 35, Titans 6

No Albert Haynesworth, no victory.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The Titans are 0-3 for the second half of the 2007 NFL season and 0-3 without defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in the lineup. Cincinnati dominated the Titans on offense, defense, special teams and in coaching on its way to a 35-6 victory.

Story of the Game: Where’s the D?

Without Haynesworth, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, the Titans defense helped receiver Chad Johnson “get his sexy back” with three touchdown receptions. Tennessee only managed one sack against quarterback Carson Palmer, who completed 32 of 38 passes for 283 yards and three touchdown passes to Johnson.

Cincinnati’s Rudi Johnson ran for 88 yards and scored his first rushing touchdown of the season against a defense which showed little intensity all day.

Now I understand why the Titans signed defensive tackle Corey Simon earlier this year. The Titans desperately need depth on its defensive line. Unfortunately, Simon retired on October 25, Haynesworth is still injured and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch left today’s game in the fourth quarter with an injury.

Haynesworth has to get better, right?

The Other Story of the Game: Questionable Play Calling

Prior to today, Cincinnati’s defense was ranked 29th overall. Theoretically, Tennessee could have success with whatever offensive strategy it designed. However, with a defense playing poorly without Haynesworth, you’d think that Tennessee would play Titans Football by running the ball and keeping the ball out of Carson Palmer’s hands.

This did not appear to be the Titans’ strategy.

Early in the second quarter, Tennessee had the ball on Cincinnati’s 3-yard line. On second down, the Titans called a pass play. Vince Young took what appeared to be a one-step drop and couldn’t find an open receiver. He was hit in the backfield by linebacker Dhani Jones and fumbled the ball. The Bengals recovered.

Why not run the ball? In the first half, LenDale White had only seven carries and Tennessee’s time of possession was 10:58.

The worst call of the day came in the third quarter with the Titans losing 28-6. Young was in rhythm, had completed three straight passes and had a scramble for five yards. Tennessee had the ball on the Bengals 18-yard line on third and five.

What play did the Titans call?

A draw play to Chris Brown.

No gain.

The fourth down pass play was incomplete.

Game over.

Red Zone Struggles

The Titans had five red zone opportunities today and produced two field goals. Tennessee’s red zone futility was exemplified early in the fourth quarter. Tennessee had the ball on the Bengals 5-yard line.

First down: Chris Brown runs for two yards.

Second down: Chris Browns runs for a touchdown. The Bengals challenge the play. The touchdown is taken off the scoreboard. Brown is credited with two yards rushing.

Third down inside the 1-yard line: LenDale White is stuffed by the Bengals defense for no gain.

Fourth down: Young’s pass is tipped and falls incomplete.

Vince Young

VY passed for 246 yards. His interception and fumble occurred while the score was 7-0 and were not big factors in the loss. Tennessee’s offensive play calling was more questionable than Young’s performance.

One TV commentator said today that Carson Palmer complimented Vince Young on his accuracy. Perhaps Vince Young is more accurate than his critics would like to believe.

Next Week: Houston Texans

Vince Young gets his first chance to face the Texans this season. Tennessee will be playing to keep its playoff hopes alive and to avoid a four-game losing streak.

The Titans have not been able to win a game without Albert Haynesworth, so his return is critical to Tennessee’s success. After three straight losses, I won’t be too optimistic until I see number 92 back on the field.

Go Titans!

Watch video highlights of the Titans-Bengals game by clicking here.

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