Rumble in the Bungle


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BAM. Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Vontaze Burfict looks at a dejected bench following a crushing defeat to bitter arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Banged up Bengals cannot linger on the loss to long with having to face the American Football Conference’s (AFC’S) best team, the Chiefs. Coach Marvin Lewis says, “We’ll be fine. We’ll be ready to go.”

On Oct. 14, the Bengals showed the world yet another creative way to lose in the most miserable of outcomes. This time it came against their bitter arch rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Cincinnati punched in a late touchdown with rookie sensation Joe Mixon running it up the middle to take the lead by one point. However, the Bengals left too much time on the clock, giving Pittsburgh possession back with a little over a minute left in the game.

You could have given the Steelers one second left and, they still would have found a way to crush the Bengals’ hearts. All they needed was a ‘Chris Boswell field goal’, instead they did better with egotistical Antonio Brown streaking into the end zone after breaking off a 31-yard catch and run.

The Bengals only had 10 seconds left and needed a miracle, but we all know that those kinds of things just do not happen in the ‘Queen City’. The game finished in a gloomy conclusion with Cincinnati now sitting at 4-2 in a tight American Football Conference (AFC) North division race.

The Bengals also added another chapter into their book ‘101 ways to Bungle a Game’ co-written by Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown. Of course, I am kidding, but over the years the Cincinnati Bengals have accumulated quite the wrap sheet of blunders over the span of five ceaseless decades.

The endless encore of disappointment and irrelevance all starts back in 1991. That was the last time that the Bengals would sniff a victory in the postseason. Still, as we sit in 2018, Cincinnati currently holds the longest playoff win drought in the National Football League (NFL). The Cleveland Browns have had more victories.

Each year there is always some sort of hype or excitement regarding the Bengals. Why would there not be, this team has continuously proven that they are the threat during the regular season.

Time and time again Cincinnati has burst onto the scene with solid teams posting great records and making the playoffs. Yet, time and time again these efforts been for nothing as each squad has met the same fate.

Like a never-ending nightmare, the Bengals have perfected the art of failure. From wasting the young talent Carson Palmer to now choking away the prime years of the Andy Dalton and AJ Green era.

If you want to know the most devastating defeat that perfectly showcases everything that is wrong with the Cincinnati Bengals, then look no further than the 2015-16 season. Cincinnati kicked off the campaign with a bang starting off with a sizzling 8-0 record. They were basically guaranteed a first-round bye. Right?

The Bengals had the most lethal offense boasting all-stars such as Green, Tyler Eifert, Muhammad Sanu, and Marvin Jones. Their defense was not too shabby either with crazy man Vontaze Burfict, Geno Atkins, and Carlos Dunlap leading the charge.

This team seemed unstoppable, up until JJ Watt and the Houston Texans waltzed into Cincinnati ready to throw down. The Texans have absolutely owned the Bengals during Marvin Lewis’ tenure as coach.

This installment in the series was no different, Houston handed Cincinnati their first L of the season, and the following week Arizona would hand the Bengals their second via a game-winning kick by the Cardinals.

After this Cincinnati had a different feel to them, and it marked the beginning of the end for them. The Bengals would travel to Denver for a mile-high matchup against Brock Osweiler and the Broncos.

It was simple if Cincinnati won they would have a first-round bye if they lost then it would still be up for grabs. Guess what happens- shocker, the Bengals lose, and it was in overtime.

The Bengals’ final loss comes to Pittsburgh and to rub salt in the wound, Dalton whom was having a career year suffered a thumb injury on his throwing hand. This put Cincinnati in a vulnerable position most likely being stuck in the death pit known as the wildcard.

The Bengals were either going to face New York Jets or the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, you can guess whom everybody in Cincinnati was rooting for. The Jets lose their final game to the Bills as expected and the Steel Curtain squeaked their way into the final spot by defeating the Ravens.

The showdown was scheduled for the night because everybody knew this game was going to get ugly. Cincinnati was notorious for playing terrible in games underneath the lights. The Bengals were seeking long overdue vengeance and Pittsburgh wanted to torment Cincy into insanity for the four billionth time.

The game started off as a low scoring duel with some hard hits and dirty play here and there. It really started to get interesting at the end of the third quarter, when Vontaze Burfict crushed the Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a sack and sent him out of the game with a shoulder injury. The score was 16-0 but, this is where Cincinnati’s comeback would begin.

The Bengals in the past had demoralizing deficits they could not overcome but, that night was different. Cincinnati battled its way back with a Jeremy Hill touchdown, field goal, and a late Green catch and score. The Bengals had battled back to take the lead 15-16 (two-point conversion was not good).

Pittsburgh was to get the ball and still had a chance to score and win the game with under five minutes to play. But, just as it appeared that the Steelers were going to put together another victorious drive, the backup quarterback Landry Jones was intercepted by Vontaze Burfict.

The Bengals had the ball in Pittsburgh territory, all they had to do was run out the clock. The curse was over. The curse was over… or so we thought.

Cincinnati following the interception would go full Bungle mode, in not only blowing the game but cementing this game as one of the most notorious choke jobs in the history of sports.

Cincinnati’s first play was a simple run by Hill, but before he was marked down Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier ripped the ball out and recovered the fumble.

Seriously, the very first play of running out of the clock was a turnover. Pittsburgh had life and miraculously big Roethlisberger was back from the locker room and ready to win.

The Steelers drive did not last as long as they expected. Instead Roethlisberger threw an incomplete pass to wide receiver Brown, but the play resulted in a massive impact.

Burfict got a targeting penalty for basically trying to decapitate Brown, and the Cincy bench proceeded to go nuts running on the field to argue with the referee.

That put Pittsburgh in field goal range with under 20 seconds to go, and smartly they decided to immediately send out their scrawny kicker Boswell for an easy game-winner.

With that, Cincinnati had once again proved to the world why not to bet on the Bengals. This wildcard match up perfectly illustrates everything wrong about this pathetic franchise.

Slow start, terrible play calling despite talented roster, awful coaching, no discipline, choking when opportune, and haunting defeats.

The 2018 season will be nothing different. Bengals will start off strong, slowly fade still skidding into the playoffs. Then from there, either two things shall happen. Either the Bengals will have a great game but, still, choke it away or they will simply be curb stomped into submission.

The whole franchise just needs to clean house in management. Cincinnati is the destination where careers go to die and in part the ownership is responsible.