Sad Demise of Cincinnati Bengals

On November 11, 2019, in NFL, by Stephen

By Stephen Nover

Some NFL teams never recover from a loss. The Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point third quarter lead to the Patriots in the 2016 Super Bowl. In the 2 1/2-plus years since then they are 20-23 and Dan Quinn isn’t likely to return as head coach next season.

Even sadder than the Falcons, though, is the demise of the Cincinnati Bengals. They were on the cusp of breaking through and possibly reaching the Super Bowl in 2015. If that would have happened, they might have had a whole different atmosphere for free agents and retained excellence.

Instead one idiot and one play destroyed the Bengals setting them on a downward cycle that now culminates with an 0-9 record and a first-year coach, Zac Taylor, who appears to be in way above his head.

The Bengals had finally turned the corner under patient Marvin Lewis earning playoff spots five years in a row from 2011-15. Now, with a 15-0 fourth quarter lead against Pittsburgh in the 2015 playoffs, the Bengals were finally ready to win a postseason game under Lewis.

The Steelers cut the lead to 16-15 but were without an injured Ben Roethlisberger. Vontaze Burfict intercepted backup QB Landry Jones’ pass with 1:36 left at the Steelers 26-yard line. That should have been the game, but it wasn’t. Jeremy Hill fumbled. Pittsburgh recovered at its own nine.

Roethlisberger re-entered the lineup and drove the Steelers to the Cincinnati 47 with 22 seconds left. Pittsburgh was out of time-outs and too far away to try for a field goal.

The next play will live in infamy in Bengals history.

Roethlisberger threw a 13-yard pass over the middle to Antonio Brown hoping to move into field goal range. The pass sailed well above Brown’s head. That should have been the end for the Steelers. But it wasn’t. Burfict had flew in from the side and viciously – and totally unnecessarily – smashed Brown in the head well after the pass had been incomplete. It was a blatant and highly dangerous cheap shot.

Burfict drew an obvious 15-yard peanlty for unnecessary roughness and the Bengals were penalized another 15 yards when Pacman Jones was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing the call. That set the Steelers up for a game-winning 36-yard field goal.

The Bengals haven’t sniffed the playoffs since going 19-37-1, including 1-16 in their last 17 games. Burfict and his fellow Rhodes Scholar, Pacman, set the wheels in motion for this downward course in Bengals history with their stupidity and animalistic behavior.

I would rank Burfict’s cheap shot on Brown almost up there with Charles Martin’s infamous throwdown of Jim McMahon long after McMahon had thrown a pass as one of the dirtiest plays of all-time.

Marvin Lewis doesn’t look bad these days compared to Taylor’s struggles. But while Lewis ended a long playoff drought, his Cincinnati legacy is his Bengals teams never won a playoff game and he asked for trouble by letting such bad actors as Burfict and Pacman be prominent members of his team.

Now, nearly five years later, the landscape is this: Lewis is out of a head coaching job, the Bengals are the worst team in the league and Burfict is suspended for the season for his culmination of dirty hits hopefully never to play again in the NFL.



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