I don't want to get carried away but...
Reserve your seats. Buy your sun block. After many years (remember Super Bowl XXIII), the Bengals' Bandwagon is headed back to Miami in February 2010. Get on board. Group rates are available.
After hitting a minor speed bump against the Broncos named Brandon Stokley (and I mean that with all due respect to the diminuitive Stokley who I would like to squash like a bug), the Bengals' Bandwagon is rolling as the Bengals have two impressive wins in a row. What was most impressive on Sunday was the team's intensity. The poise and resiliance shown when the Bengals were down 13-0 was impressive.
Before the season, I wrote a column where I dream the Bengals won the Super Bowl and looking at how they did it:
A healthy Carson Palmer - check. He looks good. Numbers are deceptive. He led two fourth quarter scoring drives yesterday against a "genius" (Steeler defensive coordinator and former Bengal head coach, Dick LeBeau).
A Physical Defense - check. See below.
Field Position - check. Kevin Huber is a game changer and, overall, special teams are much better
The O-line - check. A pleasant surprise.
Chad Becoming a Leader and Emergence of Andre Caldwell - check.
In sum, folks, we are living the dream. A victory over the World Champion Steelers can only mean one thing -- it is time to stop naysaying and complaining, it is time to jump on the Bengals Super Bowl Bandwagon.
In my pre-season "analysis" I should have emphasized a couple of additional points which are now clear:
First, Rey Maualuga is a beast. The addition of Maualuga has seemingly brought a whole new level of intensity to the defense. Moreover, the Bengals' newfound physicality puts them at the top of the division. Both the aged Ravens defense and the Steelers defense, which clearly has holes, are not as good. Could the defense play better? Sure. I know the Steelers ran all over the field in the first quarter, but the Bengals defense is keeping the scores down which is the key to winning in the NFC North. Also, a hard-hitting defense wears offenses out. The Steelers scored on their first three drives but faltered down the stretch.
Second, Carson has really become a leader. The final drive on Sunday was impressive. His off-season workouts with the receivers in LA have helped Caldwell and Henry become real threats every time they are on the field. TJ can talk all he wants about how nice it is to live amidst all those millionaires in Seattle, but we don't miss him.
Third, Cedric Benson really looks good. He is really hitting holes hard and wears down defenses.
Book it. February 7th in Miami.
By the way, when we are in Miami, Bengals owner Mike Brown will hopefully volunteer to be the hotel doorman so nobody pulls a "Stanley Wilson" on us on the eve of the Big Game. I want the Bengals to win this time.
I will acknowledge that the inspiration for the "Bandwagon" comes from another source. During the 1991 season, the Washington Post's (and now much more famous) Tony Kornheiser wrote a weekly series of articles about the Redskins' momentum, which culminated in a Super Bowl victory. At first, Kornheiser wrote them, in part, to have fun with the Skins' doom and gloom coach, Joe Gibbs. After several weeks, however, it was a weekly ritual of self affirmation as the Redskins were showing each week that, indeed, they were a very good team. I lived in DC at the time and am paying homage to TK as I enjoyed the series tremendously even though I didn't really like the Skins.
By the way, I apologize for not having written much lately. I am on an extended assignment in Football Hell...Europe. This is a land where people think that football is a game played with your feet. Can you imagine?