1. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Bengals built a great record early in the season and have blown it, losing a few games in heartbreaking fashion. As long-suffering Bengals fans, it often feels like we are witnesses in a sad, neverending tragedy in which the actors sometimes change, but the end result stays the same. I’m not quite as raging mad as many of my Bengal brethren, but I certainly understand their pain. At some point, there has to be a happy ending. Doesn’t there? Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait about 100 years like the Red Sox did.
2. This loss falls on everyone – including the fans. Yes, there were failures on offense and defense and special teams too, but imagine how difficult that final drive would have been if T.J. Yates was battling a sellout crowd too. Perhaps there would have been a false start or a tackle struggling to hear the count and a defensive end getting an extra step. Those little things can make the difference in a ballgame. Yes, I know ticket prices are extraordinarily high and Mike Brown has presided over a pitiful stretch as an owner, but certainly there are some fans who could go to the games and don’t. They deserve some of the blame too.
3. I haven’t gotten a good second look at Adam Jones’ critical pass interference penalty, but my initial reaction was that I’d seen far worse not called. In my mind – and I’ll admit I’m certainly biased – it better be an obvious penalty because it will decide the game. I’m not sure it was obvious. And Jones himself thought the same thing.
“He pushed me. I did this (to his finger),” Jones told Bengals.com, quickly pinching a reporter’s finger. “I didn’t grab it. I have no excuses.”
Asked if he thought it was a touchy call, Jones said, “What do you think? (12) seconds on the clock. What do you think? Of course I think it was a touchy call. It was on me. It wasn’t a hold.”
In a way, it was a microchasm of the Bengals’ season, where they haven’t been getting many breaks as far as penalty flags and officials are concerned. Their luck has to change at some point, but who knows when that will be?
4. I think the last drive would have been dramatically different if Carlos Dunlap were on the field. In obvious passing situations, good pass rushers cause havoc. And Dunlap is an excellent rusher. He would have managed a sack, a pressure, or at the very least some consistent harassment on the final drive. Unfortunately, Cincinnati’s other rushers weren’t able to do enough to prevent rookie T.J. Yates from reaching the endzone.
5. I know I’ve written it before, but I’d like to see Andrew Hawkins with a few more touches. Hawkins ran the ball once for four yards and added 22 yards on his one reception. He simply makes plays and it’d be nice to see him get some chances for a few more.
Extra Point: I’ll get into this more in another post, but Cincinnati’s playoff chances look rather murky at this point. The Jets presently have a game lead and also will hold the tiebreaker unless they lose the season finale in Miami. (Perhaps they could lose at Philly next week and against the Giants in Week 16, but they’re playing extremely well right now). If the Bengals, Jets, and Titans finish in a three-way tiebreaker, it appears the Titans would advance based on a better conference record. Thus, the Bengals will need a somewhat perfect storm of two Jets losses to the NFC (or a loss to Miami), a Titans loss somewhere among Indy, Jacksonville, and Houston (who has already clinched a spot), and an unbeaten finish. Yep, that’s pretty much it.
And I’m not sure I feel good about it.