Boston Sports Pod
All things Boston Sports with Joe and Shawn. Two long-time, hard-core fans of the Boston teams talk about what is going on with the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Revolution, and (honorary Boston team) Liverpool FC.

     The Bengals, oh the Bengals. Are they not the most predictable chokers in league? Man, they just did the self-fulfilling prophecy thing. Its almost as if they couldn't handle winning a playoff game, so they purposely threw it away. Saturday night's game was a disgrace. The fans, the coaches, the players – they were all a disgrace. They set the football program back years with this display. The city of Cincinnati ought to be ashamed of itself.

Full disclosure, I lived and worked in Cincinnati for 2 years, about 2007 – 2009. I missed a lot of good Patriot football in 2007. Well, I missed being in Boston and the daily hype and talk around that 2007 team, but I digress. Cincinnati blows. The city has little class, second-rate culture, horrible dining and cuisine (Cincinnati chili is an abomination), and crappy sports teams. Remember those fun days when Bengals were getting arrested every other week? From living there I know how much those players loved to cross the Ohio river into Kentucky where the rules are looser. A whole cottage industry of vice thrives over the bridge to serve this demand. Heck, I would go over there myself to buy cheaper smokes. Nevertheless, I couldn't hang there for long and moved back to Boston as soon as work allowed for it. Ultimately, it was the people that I had daily contact with that discouraged me from planting any roots there. They reeked of insincerity, they would stab you in the back without a thought. Casual racism was widely accepted and depth of character was hard to find. Concepts, trends, and behavioral norms common on the East Coast were either non-existent or years away from arriving there. Which brings me to my point, Cincinnati is a third-rate city, the local fan base and ownership leaves much to be desired, and the local football is simply an extension of this below-average, mess of a town.

This is not to say Cincinnati has no redeeming qualities. It has an interesting local history, a quality museum or two, an excellent zoo, and good medical facilities. And I'll give credit where it's due, Marvin Lewis has turned around a bottom-dwelling team and made them competitive and a perennial playoff entrant. But that's as far as it goes. The Bengals don't win playoff games, haven't in 7 straight tries over 20 years. They don't often win high-profile match-ups. Monday Night Football, SNF, any situation where the stakes are higher than your average game, the Bengals usually cough it up. Andy Dalton is good quarterback, to a degree. But he plays poorly in big games. Marvin Lewis is not good at high-pressure decision making. He screws up clock management and substitutions during the most important moments. The rest of the team seems to follow this lead, and plays its worst when it counts the most. We saw all of this on Saturday night (except Dalton due to injury). All of the Bengal's classic, choking ineptitude on display for the world to see, with a heavy dose of poor sportsmanship and atrocious decision making thrown in just in case viewers weren't completely sure the Bengal's are losers.

I'll give them this, the Bengals made for fun viewing. The game was entertaining as hell. It got fantastic ratings.

What was already a chippy affair turned nasty when Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier drilled Giovani Bernard helmet first, knocking Bernard unconscious and the ball loose for Pittsburgh to recover. No penalty was called and I didn't think the hit was illegal, or even dirty. Hard, helmet first, but Shazier didn't launch himself, or pile drive Bernard. It looked like a hard, well-executed, borderline illegal hit. The way the Bengals reacted you'd think Shazier kicked Bernard in the head, stomped on his hands, took his lunch money and stole his girl all at the same time! Vontaze Burfict sure seemed to think so. As well the fans.

On a Ben Roethlisberger drop back, Burfict launched himself at the QB, hit him hard and dropped his full weight onto him. Big Ben was hurt, enough to be carted off the field. The Cincinnati fans now covered themselves in glory by cheering the injury and throwing bottles at Roethlisberger as he was being carted down the runway. Really Cincinnati? That is how you conduct yourself when an opposing player is badly injured? Have some class. The whole stadium and Bengals team seemed to think they were gravely wronged by the Shazier hit and getting payback for it was the only thing that mattered. Not winning the game, not maintaining your dignity, forget sportsmanship.

But they weren't done embarrassing themselves yet. With 1:23 left in the game, after a Jeremy Hill fumble gave the Steelers the ball and a chance to drive into game-sinning field goal range, Burfict decided (decided might be a compliment to Burfict's faculties at the time) to drop the hammer on Antonio Brown's head. I think we've all seen the play by now. Burfict meant to drill Brown in the head with his shoulder. He intended to drill him as hard as he could in the head. It was a disgusting display of brutality. As Brown is lying on the turf, the man formerly known as “Pacman” Adam Jones takes it upon himself to shove Steelers coach Joey Porter and bump a referee. All in the name of respect right Pacman? Getting payback huh?

That payback was costly. The combined penalties on the Bengals brought the Steelers into field goal range and kicker Chris Boswell nailed it for the 18-16 win.

The Bengals and their fans showed us, reminded us, of why they are a losing program and a losing fan base. The players on the field are only as strong and disciplined as they are asked to be by their coach and Marvin Lewis doesn't instill enough discipline in his team so they run wild when put into high stress moments. They haven't been trained to handle adversity and reacted like bratty children (big, dangerous children) when exposed to pressure at its peak; in the playoffs with the click-ticking down, hard hits, fumbles, things just not going your way. The fans reacted similarly. And they are now going home after a one and done again. They deserve no better.



Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:53pm EDT

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