The collapse against the Buffalo Bills was a perfect microcosm for the Bengals' season as a whole. In the first half, Cincinnati showed off all of its artillery and star-power, as they racked up yardage, defensive plays and points. It was a harmonious collection of talent that, for one half, felt like the Bears game of last year.
However, the team reverted to form after halftime and let things get totally out of control. By the final whistle they had blown a 31-14 lead at halftime and lost by 18 points! A new low of the season was accomplished and the greater-Cincinnati area exhaled a familiar sigh.
For the record, here is how the second half went for the Bengals: allowed a Bills touchdown on the opening possession, fumbled the ball away for a touchdown return, threw an interception in the end-zone which led to a touchdown, went 3-and-out followed by a badly shanked punt (23 yards), missed a field goal, threw another interception that led to another touchdown, and finally, played the backup quarterback.
This team has either packed it in for the year, or they're simply awful, or both. Regardless, the loss to the now 2-8 Bills was the death-blow to the season and has forced the wounded and shaken Bengal fans to look ahead to the next draft and beyond—if there even is such a thing.
If you want to look at the positives in this game, think of how good the win was for Buffalo. They are now officially on a win-streak and have to be feeling good about the way their team is playing. The Bills are a competitive bunch who have a horrendous record but manage to stay competitive without tripping over their own feet. Like Cleveland, they play hard and seem like they genuinely care—that's more than we can say about our team.
Bill Walsh believed that one group can only be effective for so long before the dynamic wears off and the group becomes complacent. I think that's what has happened in Cincinnati. It is now abundantly apparent that a major overhaul is needed within this organization. Besides the few rookies and free agents the team acquired in the off-season, this was largely the exact same team as last year. People talked of making the damned Super Bowl!
Maybe their philosophical approach to the season was based on grandiose expectations. Maybe their adjustments (or lack thereof) were misguided. Or maybe the players simply didn't want it as badly as last year. I'm still not sure which reason it is, but I am sure that everything this season has gone to hell in a tiger-striped hand-basket and that if this were any other NFL team, heads would roll. As it is here, we, as fans and simple townspeople, are afraid of which path our local team's leadership will decide upon. The worse of those fears, it seems, is that no path will be chosen at all. What if Mike Brown comes to a fork in the road and just sits down? The same-old, same-old will not do!
Mojokong—put Marvin upstairs, remove Bratkowski, and trade Carson for a swashbuckler.