CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 21: Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals walks off of the field after throwing an interception late in the fourth quarter of the Bengals 49-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on November 21 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
As Adam Scott dusted his four-stroke lead with bogies during the final four holes during The British Open, losing a championship that was all but his to Ernie Els, we thought to ourselves, we've seen this story before. Though from a different sport and a specific team. The Cincinnati Bengals have had their share of collapses, so here's the top-five collapses during the Marvin Lewis era.
No. 5: DEFENSE ALLOWS 35 IN THE SECOND HALF AGAINST BUFFALO. Though the 2010 season was disastrous to begin with, this Sunday afternoon on November 21, 2010 was at least a momentary break from an otherwise depressing season. Cincinnati jumped out to a 28-7 lead in the second quarter and a 31-14 half-time lead against the Buffalo Bills during week 11. I wrote at the time:
With twenty four points in the second quarter, a Bills offense that stumbled through the air with two Johnathan Joseph interceptions, life was good. No, it was as spectacular as finding your father’s Playboy stash when you were ten years old. Shinning gold bounces off the walls, life seems brighter, hopeful with songs of awesome from angels with harps, echoing throughout the hallway of the Gods of Olympus.
Buffalo laughed. The Bills offense exploded with four touchdowns during five second-half possessions while the Bengals offense went fumble, interception, punt, missed field goal and interception. A 17-point half-time lead turned into an 18-point loss.
No. 4: DEFENSE ALLOWS 42 POINTS IN THE SECOND HALF AGAINST SD - This has to go down as one of the all-time regular season collapses in franchise history. After securing a 28-7 lead heading into half time on November 12, 2006, the Cincinnati Bengals defense packed it in and allowed the San Diego Chargers to score 42 points in the second half. Look at it this way. The Bengals offense scored 41 points and still lose by eight. Look at it this way, part II: If the Bengals hold onto a 21-point half-time lead, Cincinnati likely makes the playoffs.
No. 3: BOTCHED SNAP AGAINST THE DENVER BRONCOS. The Cincinnati Bengals were down by seven on Christmas Eve in 2006 when Denver punted the football to the Bengals ten-yard line with 3:52 remaining in the game. The 8-6 Bengals were in a strong position to return to the postseason thanks in part to a fast start to the season, clinching a playoff berth if they win this game. Carson Palmer and the Bengals offense put together a 12-play, 90-yard drive, capped by a 10-yard touchdown reception by T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
All that remained was a point after touchdown and this game is tied, likely sending the game into overtime. Instead a poor snap from center Brad St. Louis aborted the attempt and the Bengals fell short by one point. Depressing as that was, the Bengals still had an opportunity to clinch a spot in the postseason during the regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
No. 2: GRAHAM MISSES TWO SECOND HALF FIELD GOALS IN THE PLAYOFFS - Shayne Graham pushed a 35-yard field goal wide left with 6:29 remaining in the third quarter of Cincinnati's wild card game against the New York Jets. The kick would have reduced Cincinnati's deficit to four points. Instead the failed field goal conversion led to a New York Jets touchdown and a 14-point Bengals deficit.
Later in the game with the Bengals only down by ten points (24-14), Graham pushed a 28-yard field goal wide right with 3:54 remaining in the game. If Graham converts it, Cincinnati is within a touchdown of tying the game late in the fourth quarter.
No. 1: MISSED GAME-WINNING FIELD GOAL AND OVERTIME LOSS. The Cincinnati Bengals entered the final week of the season with a 8-7 record, still with a chance to make the playoffs if they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on New Years Eve. Jeff Reed had just converted a 35-yard field goal with 1:07 remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
After Glenn Holt returned the ensuing kickoff to the Bengals 33-yard line, quarterback Carson Palmer launched a 47-yard pass to Chris Henry down the middle of the field to the Steelers 20-yard line. Oh my goodness! The Bengals are about to go to the post season in consecutive postseasons for the first time since 1981-82.
The season was over.