Growing up in Cincinnati has led me to experience a lot of heartbreak when it comes to sports teams. As a smaller city, we can’t afford to lure and keep the best athletes in the game and we have a whole list of management and ownership woes.
At least the Reds have a storied history. Though their recent performance this season was dismal and day by day we lose another talented player, we can reference The Big Red Machine and the World Series we’ve won in the past.
The Bengals have gone to the Super Bowl twice in franchise history, both losses. And we haven’t had a playoff win since before I was born. The worst part is that within the last ten years, we’ve come close and driven the hopes of the city up just to crumble with disappointment.
I was a freshman in high school in 2005 when the Bengals took the AFC North Divison Title. It was the days of Carson Palmer, Rudi and Chad Johnson, and TJ Houshmanzadah (I know I didn’t spell that right). It was the most talent we had in a long time, it finally seemed like our year. My heart broke when the Steelers took out Palmer, it was as if they stomped on the whole city’s dreams.
That game when was when I first understood why I, as a Cincinnati Bengals fan, had to hate the Steelers. I understood rivalry-heck I went the the University of Louisville and currently work in Wildcat country. But the Steelers seemingly take our hope away whenever it’s playoff season.
Sadly, I’d grown quite cynical as we entered the playoffs again this year. How many years had I hoped but we’d fallen short? Everything seemed to be going well: Dalton finally hit his groove as a QB, Green found a way to get open and make big plays, Eifert was healthy and a factor, Bernard and Hill were a perfect tag team run game. Defense was solid. We were undefeated for a long time. Then we lost, then we lost Dalton. Then we lost the bye week-and we were back to what has plagued us in the past. By a miracle the Steelers were the wildcard opponent.
The game play itself was ugly. Scoreless first quarter, penalties every other play. And of course it was dirty. These teams hate each other. It’s not hype, it’s true. A Steelers coach pulled Reggie Nelson’s dreadlocks. A coach?! Who does that? Pushing and shoving after plays and trash talk. And injuries, left and right people were pulled from the game.
Big Ben was pulled for a shoulder injury Putin him by Burfict. My embarrassment for Cincinnati began with the treatment of the Steelers QB as he was carted off. Cheering and throwing beer bottles? Very classless.
In his abcense we finally made it on the board, and then pulled ahead with 1:50 left to go. It seemed done and over and we were victorious. We finally broke the curse. With the ball and 1:50 on the clock, Marvin calls for a run. Hill fumbles. Steelers recover. No way.
But the Steelers have a lot to do to make it to field goal range and they are out their QB. Except wait Ben is back. That’s what we get for being jerks. He throws to Brown, his best receiver, and Burfict takes him out. Brown has the ball but he is knocked hard in the head and goes down. Burfict is hit was a 15 yard targeting penalty. This puts the Steelers in field goal range. A Steelers coach comes out and taunts Adam Jones. Jones argues with an official, pushes him. Another 15 yard penalty, the field goal is a chip shot. Steelers hit the field goal and win 18-16.
Many blame the officiating. The officiating was bad but not to blame. The Bengals beat themselves. They had the game won but Marvin was too risky with his play call. He was wrong not to pull Burfict (who already had a helmet to helmet penalty and was heated) and Jones (also heated). Those penalties handed the game to Pittsburg.
Worst than the loss was the embarrassment of behavior. As grown men who are paid millions to play a game, I’m disgusted at their behavior. Burfict clearly aims to severely injure people and someone like that shouldn’t be on the field. Jones has had anger problems for years and they just let it slide. Marvin clearly has no control of his team and he can’t pull out a win when it matters most, the playoffs. If he worked anywhere else he’d be fired.
We need to value character as high as if not higher than ability on this team. Burfict and Jones need to be cut, if they can’t keep their cool then this game isn’t for them. Marvin Lewis needs to be fired, he had not control over his players. The Bengals must take responsibility for their actions instead of pinning the loss on the officials.
Ok, that’s all I have to say about that.
Maybe next year…..