Usually when an offense turns the ball over in its own territory, it sets up a subsequent chain of bad events for that same team's defense.
Given a short field on which to stop the opposing offense on the sudden possession change, the aforementioned defense doesn't always stand firm. Touchdowns are often the product of the quick field flip and can push a team further and further out of contention in a game.
That hasn't really been the case, though, for the Cincinnati Bengals in recent weeks. For the most part when Cincinnati's offense turns the ball over at any point on the field -- but particularly in its own territory -- its defense has been able to answer with a hold. We'll get into it more with the first link of this Tuesday edition of the Morning Stripes, but the Dayton Daily News' Jay Morrison provided the figures that show whether its on a short field or long field, the Bengals' post-turnover defense has been really strong of late.
In the last three games, the Bengals' offense has turned the ball over 19 times. Three of those turnovers, like Joe Haden's interception that was returned for a score in Sunday's 41-20 win over the Browns, came when the opposing defense returned the turnover for a touchdown. So that leaves 16 other drives when the Bengals' defense has been asked to stand firm and not allow a touchdown.
According to Morrison's research, on 15 of those drives, it has done just that. Only once in the past three games has a Bengals offensive turnover led to a turnover given up by their defense. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one reason why Cincinnati's offense has its defense to thank for keeping it in arguably all but one game this season.
Let's get to the rest of the Morning Stripes:
Again, we'll start off with the link to Morrison's story for the Dayton Daily News. It's one glimpse into how the Bengals have been able to stay competitive. On Sunday, after giving up two first-quarter turnovers, including the one that was returned for a touchdown, the Bengals could have been down 18-0 or as much as 21-0 after the game's first 15 minutes. Instead, because of a stop in their own territory -- 12 of the 16 opposing offense drives that have started following a Bengals turnover in the last three weeks began on the Bengals side of the 50 -- they were able to force a field goal that followed up another. Instead of what should have been a three-score lead, the Browns only led 13-0 when James Harrison intercepted a Jason Campbell pass late in the first quarter. Minutes later, at the start of the second, the Bengals began a 31-0 rally that earned them the win.
Moving over to offense, the Associated Press' Joe Kay has this story on the Bengals' special teams in Sunday's win. The group, mostly paced by young punt return-team players like Jayson DiManche, Shawn Williams and Tony Dye, contributed greatly to the win. DiManche got his first career blocked punt, Williams tipped another and Dye scored his first touchdown. Dye's scoop and score came on DiManche's block. Williams' tip set up good Bengals field position and led to an offensive touchdown. There were other plays that had special-teams coordinator Darrin Simmons excited after the game, but those three events had him most encouraged.
Moving up to Cleveland, several Browns players said Monday they felt lucky to be alive following a "scary" landing just outside Cleveland on Sunday night. Because of high winds and rains brought on by the same story system that hit Cincinnati following the game, the Browns had at one point considered busing back. But the airport and United Airlines gave them the OK to fly home. Had it not been for their pilot, some players contend, the Browns may not have had a good landing. Here's Pat McManamon's report for ESPN.com, and Mary Kay Cabot's for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The past few days have been difficult for many affiliated with the Bengals. Since Saturday, four people with past ties to the franchise have died. Former offensive lineman Mike McCormack, one of the original Bengals' coaching assistants, Jack Donaldson, and former linebackers Frank Chamberlain and Thomas Howard all passed away. Chamberlin, 35, lost his yearlong battle with brain cancer Sunday. Howard, 30, died in Northern California early Monday when a car he was reportedly driving at speeds upward of 100 mph, clipped a truck and veered into oncoming traffic. Howard's car hit another driver head-on, killing them both instantly. He was in Cincinnati earlier this season for a tryout, and recently was waived by the Falcons. Here's the Associated Press on Howard's death, and one from Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, who spoke with current linebacker and Howard mentee Rey Maualuga.