Boy oh boy oh boy. I’m not even really sure where to begin. First and foremost, my apologies for not getting this up immediately after the game. That’s not due to apathy or a lack of commitment on my end, rather I think I just needed some time to collect my thoughts and process what in the actual fuck I saw take place on Saturday night. After hours of agonizing thoughts and some depressive day drinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that Saturday’s home playoff loss to the Steelers is one of, if not the worst loss I’ve ever witnessed in modern sport. Not just in Bengals history, not just in football history, I mean I just can’t really recall ever seeing a loss that’s as bad as what we witnessed on Saturday. Actually I don’t think ‘loss’ is an appropriate term. Implosion is probably more accurate. In fact, we didn’t lose to the Steelers, we lost to ourselves. We beat that team, we just also happened to beat ourselves in the process and that’s what the final score actually indicated. Tez and the defense made enough stops and AJ McCarron played tough and hung in there long enough to deliver our first playoff win since I was just a couple months old, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.
The thing that really chaps my ass the most is that I don’t think people even really realize what went down or who to blame. I don’t know if that’s because it’s still only a matter of hours after the debacle and emotions are still running high, but everyone and their brother is talking about Tez and Pacman, about the personal foul penalties and the refs and Joey Porter, but none of that happens if Jeremy Hill just hangs on to the God damn football. I get that Porter shouldn’t have been out on the field. I get that Tez and Pacman’s penalties set up a chip shot for them to win the game, but we had the ball with a minute and a half left, with a lead, at home and still pissed the game away. Refs didn’t do that for us. Tez and Pac don’t play on offense. They’re not responsible. I hate to pin the loss on one guy cause in football it’s usually a series of events or missed opportunities that lead to a loss, but I think you can absolutely point the finger at Mr. Hill. It sucks cause he’s a tremendous talent and probably my favorite runner since Corey Dillon, but as the lead back you HAVE to be able to hold on to the ball and ice the game there. No if’s and’s or but’s. No of those personal foul flags or dirty hits even happens if we just protect the football in that situation. Worst case scenario, you run the ball three times, make Pittsburgh burn their final two timeouts, and pooch kick the ball down to the 5 or something and make them go the length of the field with about 45 seconds left and no timeouts. Best case scenario you pick up a first down or even take a couple knees and kick a field goal seeing as we were already in Steeler territory and ice the game. It’s easy to Monday morning QB and say we coulda shoulda done this or that, but the bottom line is that our defense shouldn’t have even seen the field after that Tez interception, but instead 2 time Super Bowl winning Ben Roethlisberger got the ball back in his hands with plenty of time on the clock and two timeouts in his pocket and that was all she wrote. Knew it as soon as he stepped out on the field too. Long before any penalties or on field skirmishes. If fact if I’d have told you before the game that Big Ben would have the ball inside 2 minutes with 2 timeouts left down one I guarantee that you would have thought the Bengals were going to lose because we’ve seen that narrative far too many times before. Sure enough, down the field they march with a little help from two of our best defensive players that honestly should never had happened. It sucks because Tez was the best player on the field all game long and no one is going to remember the sacks or the INT’s or the tackles for loss, rather the targeting penalty that put them in field goal range.
What happens next? Fuck if I know. Obviously Marvin’s future is going to be called into question. I said before the game that win lose or draw Marvin’s job was going to be safe, but I didn’t take into account that we would suffer the worst implosion in modern sports history, so I think the conversation at least has to be had. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if he stayed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes either. Mike Brown and players love Marvin, but there are already reports surfacing that Marv has no control of the team and that a change needs to be made. As far as the roster goes, that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms as well. We have A TON of free agents and no matter who we sign or don’t sign there is going to be a lot of change within this roster, but we should still probably have enough to win another 9 or 10 games and my guess is we’ll probably be doing this same dance again next year. That’s something I really don’t want to talk about now, though. You know how some vets will come home from an active combat zone and they don’t want to discuss the horrors of war that they experienced? Well that’s pretty much how I feel right now. I’ll talk eventually, but right now I just need to be alone with my thoughts. That’s a conversation for another day. Probably sometime later this week when I write my annual “Time To Fix the Bengals” piece. Should be a doozy.
Hey Adam, from one best friend to another, probably not the best look. If I were you, I’d just lay low for a while and hope that the organization comes back tendering you an offer in a couple months. Just my two cents.