I have been a life-long fan of the Cincinnati Bengals. I saw my first game way back in 1970, two years after their expansion season. Watched them beat the Cleveland Browns 14-10 at Riverfront Stadium. That Bengals team started 1-6, then won it’s last 7 and won the AFC Central. I loved the uniforms with the word “BENGALS” across either side of the helmet, I hoped to be Ken Anderson someday at QB.
I suffered through the 1975 season, when they were quite possibly the second best team in the NFL, finished 11-3 and lost a heartbreaking playoff game in Oakland 31-28. The agony of the 1982 Super Bowl at the Silverdome, when Pete Johnson could not get in the end zone on three tries with a first and goal, when Cris Collinsworth dropped a sure TD pass.
The equally as devasting 1989 Super Bowl, when Joe “Friggin” Montana marched the surfer boy 49ers down the field in the last 3 minutes to crush me with the game winning TD pass to John Taylor. The 2015 season playoff loss, where if Jeremy Hill simply hangs on to the football, all the “you can’t win a playoff game” demons would have been exorcised. I suffered through David Klinger, Akili Smith, Kijana Carter, Dave Shula, Bruce Coslet, Homer Rice, and the 90’s “Bungles”.
The Monday Night loss to the Steelers though took my suffering to a different level. It was inevitable that the Steelers would come back and win, you could just sense it. Even as Cincinnati played perhaps it’s best half of football this season, and led 17-3 at the half, you just knew what was coming. It started to rain, the offense suddenly forgot how to move to the football, Ben Roethlisberger did what he seemingly always does when the Steelers trail the Bengals….starts throwing daggers.
And yes, the Bengals came unglued mentally. William Jackson deciding to quit on the Le’Veon Bell run down the sideline that went for a TD…a franchise record in penalty yards in the season’s biggest game. On 3rd and 2 with the lead late they run a PASS play, when they had been, for a change, able to run the ball effectively. Of course it failed.
Marvin Lewis deserves credit for making the franchise competitive again, he played a major role in making the team, at times over his 15 years, one that many thought had a Super Bowl run in them. You can’t argue the talent that has come and gone, and currently is there.
What needs to change though is the culture of what exists. The same things happen time and time again…the dumb penalties, the lack of execution at crucial moments, the inability to reign in some of the behavior (yes, on and OFF the field) that happens. That all falls on Lewis. By all accounts, he is a good man, and has had success coaching. It just seems no one takes what he says seriously, because no one (the Brown family) has apparently read HIM the riot act.
I have never been one to call for a coaches firing, but Monday night was the last straw…I know Lewis is unsigned for the 2018 season, but why wait now? Make a move, send a message to the fan base, and yes, the team. It’s time to change, we are serious about it, and garbage like Monday night is done here and now.