PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Carson Palmer played the entire game, some of it on a rain-slick grass field, and came out with a healthy left knee. No setbacks. Palmer dropped back to throw just 20 times; he was sacked once. He was 13-for-13 passing for 127 yards, no interceptions and no touchdowns. The best news Sunday for the Bengals, besides the victory, was how the Bengals didn't have to rely on Palmer and the pass offense to win the game. On an 88-yard touchdown drive, the Bengals employed the no-huddle effectively, and Palmer was 5-for-5 passing on the possession.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Bengals maintained possession on the ground, rushing the ball 34 times compared to just 20 passes. Rudi Johnson had a workman-like 28 carries for 96 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown run. The other touchdown came on an 8-yard run by Kenny Watson on a quick pitch to the left.
PASS DEFENSE: A -- Though the Bengals yielded 230 passing yards and one touchdown through the air, they forced the Chiefs to throw by taking away the run. With the Chiefs one-dimensional, the Bengals had seven sacks -- all from defensive linemen, including three from Justin Smith. With Sam Adams eating space and taking up two blockers in the middle, the ends had one-on-one blocking and had their way with KC's tackles. Free safety Madieu Williams also had the team's interception, and the Bengals ended up with a 3-1 edge in the turnover differential.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Bengals, run over for 201 yards Jan. 1 by Larry Johnson, snapped his nine-game streak of 100-yard rushing games. Johnson was limited to 68 yards on 17 carries. He had 10 rushes that went for 2 or fewer yards, and of them, four went for no gain and three for minus-1 yard. Madieu Williams and Dexter Jackson came up from the safety positions to offer outstanding run support.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus -- Shayne Graham kicked three field goals on three attempts and had one touchback. Kyle Larson could have had two touchbacks had Tab Perry been able to knock down two punts. The Bengals also held dangerous return man Dante Hall to five yards on three punt returns.
COACHING: A -- Marvin Lewis had the perfect overall message
for his team, preparing them psychologically: grind it out. And his coordinators
backed it up with their game plans. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski stuck
with the run game, and the Bengals ran 34 times, compared to 20 pass plays.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan called a basic plan, too, allowing
talented ends Justin Smith and Robert Geathers exploit matchup advantages on the
egde of the KC offensive line. There was little blitzing, allowing the Bengals
to drop more linebackers and keep defensive backs in pass coverage.