Monday, November 23, 2009

Message to Bengals: Do Not Bungle Your Strong Start

Words cannot express the frustration with the Cincinnati Bengals.

As much as I would like to believe that they can get to the playoffs and make noise, and just as I am ready to proclaim them as the a member of this season’s elite class, they mess it up.

An elite team does not lose to an inferior team when said elite team has a chance to put a chokehold on their division.

An elite team does not allow a backup quarterback on a bottom five team to drive 80 yards in eleven plays for a tying score as time ticks away in the fourth quarter.

I understand that it is the NFL, and that any team can beat any other team on any given day. Every team has professional talent on its roster, and that talent can show up at any moment and take over a game.

But the Oakland Raiders did not take over this game. The Bengals gave it away. I would rather have been dominated and beaten to a pulp than to lose by three. Especially in the fashion the game was lost.

Bruce Gradkowski puts together a solid drive and puts the Bengals secondary on the ropes, ultimately cashing in for the tying score. Okay, cool. Overtime. The Bengals are better than the Raiders; they will wake up and do what they need to do in OT. Oh wait, Andre Caldwell, you forgot the ball at the 17 yard line. The Raiders picked it up. There’s only 30 seconds left in the game. Shoot, they just kicked a field goal for the win. We didn’t even get to go to overtime.

It almost makes me feel disgusted. All week since the sweep of the Steelers, I have gladly stood up for Cincinnati, supporting them and backing them when all of these people say that “it’s the Bengals, they’ll mess it up late in the season.” I do not feel that they are going to mess it up, but now it is much harder to state my case.

Last week I said that this three game stretch would be an indicator of how mature the Bengals really are, and if they are legit. Three wins from three games against inferior competition would have added major cushion. But now we must hope for two of three.

The Bengals can live with letting the Oakland game slip away. But now they MUST beat Cleveland and Detroit. If the Bengals really have matured, and are contenders, they will pick themselves up, dust off that Oakland baseball field dirt, and win the next two games.

If they can keep from getting down and avoid a slump (losing a game to a bad team can put you in a slump very quickly) they will be all right. If they can respond strongly and show everyone that they are not going to lay down and “blow it” like everyone thinks, then they can continue chasing playoff aspirations.

But for now, I struggle with frustration. I wrestle with logic. I continue to defend the Bengals and their status as a playoff team, even after such an abysmal loss.

I hope my defending them is not in vain. We will know in two weeks whether or not the Bengals bungled their strong start.

No comments:

Post a Comment