Those vivid memories are firmly entrenched in my mind. Jerome Bettis runs. The Cincinnati Bengals defense widens their base, chops their feet, flipping foam from their mouths with a sudden exhale. Suddenly the wind slams on the brakes, background noise becomes blanketed by the anticipatory silence just before... Bettis runs over everyone. In fact, the day Jerome Bettis gives his Hall of Fame speech, he better give credit to the Cincinnati Bengals.
In 20 games played against Cincinnati, Bettis generated 1,784 yards rushing on 422 carries while scoring 17 times on the ground. How much did he dominate Cincinnati? Bettis didn't generate 1,000 yards rushing against any other team during his entire NFL career.
Bettis has long since retired following the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl in 2005, trying his hand at NFL analysis with various networks and anyone that will have him. He recently chatted with Dave Damashek on the Dave Damashek Football Program, labeling Cincinnati as the team that has improved the most within the division (thanks to Neal Coolong at Behind the Steel Curtain).
"The question mark in the division is the Steelers," Bettis said on the show. "How will they perform? Will they be able to run the football? Will the defense be able to stay intact? They've got some questions that need to be answered, so right now if I had to step out of my body and give a prediction I'd say the edge goes to Cincinnati, then Baltimore, then Pittsburgh, then Cleveland."
Though one could argue that the Bengals didn't really improve, as much as they maintained by keeping Andre Smith, Michael Johnson, and virtually all of their free agents. James Harrison will provide something (we believe attitude) and the rookies should help enhance the team.
But hey, we won't disregard a beautiful commentary from Jerome the Bengals killer.
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