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Sunday, October 24, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Falcons 39, Bengals 32

By James Walker

ATLANTA -- Here are some early thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons' wild 39-32 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

What it means: The Bengals' season is on the brink just seven weeks into the season. After three straight losses, Cincinnati (2-4) is in a very deep hole. The AFC is deep, and if the Bengals want to make the playoffs for the second straight year, they need to get hot very quickly.

What I liked: After falling behind early, the Bengals showed character by scoring 22 straight points in the third quarter to take the lead, 25-24. Cincinnati dominated in stretches and showed glimpses of what this team could be. Rookie receiver Jordan Shipley and veteran Terrell Owens both went over the 100-yard receiving mark.

What I didn't like: Coming off a bye week, I expected more from the Bengals. Cincinnati started very slowly and was sloppy in the first half, trailing 24-3. Cincinnati warmed up in the second half, but the Bengals cannot expect to beat good teams on the road by falling behind by three touchdowns. Cincinnati's defense gave up 39 points, the highest total of the season. The Bengals just seemed to be a couple steps behind Atlanta for most of the game. But a lot of credit goes to the Falcons (5-2), who are one of the NFL's better teams.

Injuries of note: Cincinnati's secondary is banged up. Starting cornerback Johnathan Joseph (arm) did not play and was missed in this game. Teammate Adam Jones, who filled in for Joseph, made plays but also suffered a stinger in the second half.

What's next: There is some good news for the Bengals. They will play two straight games at home, starting next week against the Miami Dolphins. After that, Cincinnati will have a huge "Monday Night Football" game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The next two weeks will give the Bengals an opportunity to climb back to .500.