I'm sure many Bengals fans are wondering that same question. Its a simple word, that can be tied to many, many questions. But why can't we make a run to through the playoffs? Why do we always seem to waste are challenges in crucial moments? Why do the refs continue flag Nelson on legal hits? ETC. ETC. ETC.....
Its about 4am in Houston right now and I can't get to sleep. Partly because my ears are still ringing from the crowed noise and I keep asking my self why. I figured I would shed some light on my experience at Reliant Stadium and try to clear my mind out because Cincy Jungle is my release therapy.
Home Field Advantage makes a differnece.
First off, Houstons fans made the difference in this game. There is no doubt in my mind about that. For the 100 Bengals fans that went to the game, they would say the same thing. It was evident from the time I got at the stadium, it was going to be a long day for me no matter what. I got heckled every step I took from the car to my seat and it didn't help I had to wear my Chad Johnson jersey from a few years back. In the back of my mind, I didn't care because I knew we could win this game and afterwards there would be way more embarressed Texans fans than Bengals fans.
Boy was I wrong. The stadium was filled 99.9% with Texans fans and they didn't let up on making noise. They caused a false start in the first half to help stall a drive, caused a penalty for 12 players in the huddle and we had to burn a time out early in the second half. Plus, the bengals had to use a silent counts or snap the ball right before the play clock expired on every play. Which made it easier for the defense to get a jump on the offensive line. Just about every big play or penalty was sparked by the crowd.
Going through this was an eye opening expierence because home field advantage does mean something. And it can determine an outcome of game. Its something we as fans need to embrace because the players do feed off it. Every great team is backed by a great fan base.
This game was definately a growing pain for Andy. There were few things I noticed. Andy seems to know where he is going before the snap of the ball. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. For example, Jerome's first catch was for 8 yrds, but Gresham had the LB beat down the middle which could have gone for a big gain. And there were a few plays where he locked himself on one side of the field and neglected the middle of the field where gresham and simpson were open a few times. Im sure the pass rush and noise had something to do with it, but I expect better out of him.
Also, he wasn't that accurate on his deep throws and we could of made some plays if the ball was where it was suppose to be. Andy made some throws out of desperation, instead of anticipation. And I'm starting to worrie about his passes getting batted down. It seems like the last couple of games and including this one, Andy's passes have been getting batted down more than average.Overall, Andy had a bad day, But I believe in this guy and I think he will learn from this and become a better player.
If there ever was a doubt in your mind about this kid, I hope this game proved you wrong. Simpson was one of the bright spots in this game and I hope the front office resigns him. He had several big catches and great blocks. I think he may have missed a few passes, but one was thrown out of bounds and the other one was contested by the CB.
Another thing that no body talks about with Jerome. He wants to be a leader and he wants to be here. Outside athletic ability, those are important qualities you want in a player. I noticed in pre-game warm ups, Jerome was the WR that was first in every drill. Also, when the whole team came out to stretch, Simpson was one of the players greeting everyone as they came out. And that means something for those who played football, knows what I'm talking about.
As much as I like his leadership and mentality, he just isn't what we need anymore. Or as a starter at least. I'm tired of seeing this guy missing tackles, getting beat deep or getting his ankles broke. Usually, his tackling is pretty solid when he can get a hold of someone, but that last Foster TD was horrible. Crocker just got manhandled. And when he had a chance to get an INT he dropped it. He isn't the play maker we need out of a SS. After this game, I think our need for SS is pretty high. I wouldn't be surprised if we draft one in the first round.
What a year!
Before everyone jumps over the edge and becomes debbie downer. We had a good year. We really did. It sucks we didnt keep it going but we have a lot to build off of and look forward to. The sky is the limit. We truely are close to becoming a championship quality team. Im tired of people blaming this and that. Calling for peoples heads, some of that stuff is so irrational and ignorant. We got beat and you know what, when its all said in done, 31 other teams will fall short too. There can only be one champion.
The NFL is about technique, doing your job, keeping mistakes to a minimal, and execution. If they didn't call that personal foul on Nelson, we made that field goal, and Watt didn't get that pick 6, this game could have easily went the other way big time. The Houston fans did a great job of creating home field ADVANTAGE. Hopefully, next year, we will have the same opportunity and make the most of it!