While Bengals fans might not be buying into the team after seven games this season, one Washington Post blogger isn't convinced of Cincinnati. Why? Mostly trust issues.
It's a fine story now, but Cincinnati is one of those teams you just can't trust. The Bengals have disappointed so many times that you're almost waiting for them to collapse. This is, after all, an organization that has had two winning seasons in 20 years.
Can we really blame him for thinking this way? Most of us have and probably still do. Aside from a struggling economy that has blue collar fans -- the heart of the Bengals fan base -- penny pinching, trusting the Cincinnati Bengals has been a difficult thing to maintain. An accurate reminder of trust issues could be traced back to 2006, when the Bengals went into a Monday Night Football game on December 18 against the Indianapolis Colts. The Bengals were 8-5, riding a four-game winning streak with wins over the Saints, Browns, Ravens and Raiders -- three of those four wins were won by 15 points or more and the Bengals beat the Browns 30-0.
It was simple, if the Bengals win just one their last three games, they make the playoffs. With a win over the Chiefs and a potential win over the Broncos during week 16 (game #15) the Bengals would own tie-breakers against two competing teams that were vying for the final wildcard spot. It seemed so easy. Win one, you're in. Maybe not as good as they were in 2005, these Bengals were still good.
The Bengals went 0-3 in the worst possible way.
Peyton Manning threw four touchdowns passes in a 34-16 route. Brad St. Louis made a poor snap that cost the Bengals an extra point that would have tied the Denver Broncos with 46 seconds left in the game. And in the final game of the year, the Steelers and Bengals battled into overtime when Ben Roethlisberger completed a 67-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes to end the Bengals season. Consider for a moment that the Bengals lost 23 of their next 35 games after beating the Oakland Raiders on December 10, 2006.
However, I believe the issue of trust shouldn't factor into whether you buy into this team this year. The Bengals are different. How much? Carson Palmer isn't putting up the passing stats he did in 2006. Then again, he's winning football games on last minute drives. Cedric Benson is on pace to equal Rudi Johnson's 12 touchdowns that year; his 1,645 yards rushing he's on pace for will shatter the club record. Offensively the Bengals are worse than that year. Defensively, they're far stronger. All around, the depth is better.
This club is like no other club Cincinnati has had during the Mike Brown era. There's unity. There's pride. There's ambition. There's a genuine lack of me-first personality. I can understand Gene Wang's point in the Washington Post. But having watched all the Bengals teams in the past, and immensely focused on this team now, I have to say that trust issues and recent history bear no relevance to the 2009 Cincinnati Bengals.