A Study in Contrast

Going from the Bengals-Bills debacle to the Patriots-Colts brilliance...

After I had thrown my disheveled and now misshapen Bengals hat across the room while watching Rashad Jeanty and Justin Smith find a way to NOT tackle Marshawn Lynch, I turned my NFL Sunday Ticket to the pregame for the Patriots-Colts game.  I wanted to see how football was supposed to be played, and I was not disappointed.  (I would like to send the $250 bill for the Sunday Ticket Package to Mike Brown - he never delivered his end of the bargain...a football team!)

Neither team seemed intimidated by the spotlight - in fact, both teams brought their A-game.  I was personally struck by the contrast between the Bengals and the Colts/Patriots.

-- The Colts were without Marvin Harrison and lost Anthony Gonzales (and other key players) at key points in the game.  The back-up players stepped up.  In contrast, aside from Glenn Holt, Bengals back-up players have looked barely worthy of being on an NFL practice squad, much less playing substantial minutes.

-- Explosive players made plays on both sides.  Joseph Addai's run at the end of the first half, Randy Moss's long catches, et alia.  In contrast, the Bengals "money man" Chad Johnson dropped his opportunities to blow the game open.  (Though in his defense, it looked like Chad had a concussion for most of the second half AND he gave up the body at the end, despite not making the play, getting carted off the field)

-- Smart players made smart plays.  Wes Welker, making the catch at the end and going down in-bounds, allowing the Patriots to kneel down to win the game.  Brilliant.  In contrast, Kenny Watson did not head for the sidelines after making a short catch with over a minute and a half left.  Yes, the game was effectively over, but one never knows...

-- Role players made plays when given the opportunity.  Bit-player Kevin Faulk scrambling in for a TD; Wes Welker tip toeing into the end zone around Bob Sanders.  In contrast, Bengals role players made negative plays (Blue Adams' absurd personal foul penalty) or no plays at all.

-- Defensive players made tackles:  It was amazing to watch players on both sides make tackles by themselves, without help.  Countless times, a single player took down a ballcarrier in the backfield, causing a substantial loss (Rodney Harrison had a particularly good takedown).  In contrast, the Bengals managed to miss gang-tackles!  

-- Defensive players made plays when in position to do so:  Brackett's 4-tip interception; amazing play!  Bethea's cut-in-front interception; good position, good hands.  Pats forced fumble to Roosevelt Colvin to effectively clinch; clutch play.  In contrast, the Bengals did not make plays when they were in position to do so - Johnathan's Joseph's pillow-soft coverage on predicatable out patterns all day; JJ's inability to knock the ball out of Lee Evans's hands on a long pass. Inexcusable for a first round pick.  

-- Neither team panicked.  Both teams stuck to the gameplan; kept the offense and defense flexible.  The Patriots never wavered despite being down two scores in the fourth quarter.  In contrast, the Bengals abandoned the running game early (refused to give Dorsey an opportunity on a sweep or screen).  Further, the Bengals froze up when given the opportunity to ice the game (up 21-19 with ball) or reclaim the lead (down 26-21 with the ball).

-- Both teams played hard.  Hard hitting on both sides of the ball.  Chippiness (but not classlessness) after each play.  The way football is meant to be.  In contrast, the Bengals seemed listless on defense and Rudi refused to hit the holes hard.  A lack of intensity continues to plague the Bengals.

-- Neither team gave anything away to the other.  Most good plays were genuinely good plays, not due to missed assignments or physical inadequacies.  In contrast, the Bengals made a bad team look Pro-Bowl caliber by continually missing tackles and blowing assignments.

-- The Patriots did not let the bad calls get to them.  The two pass interference penalties against Hobbs were questionable at best, yet the defense continued to play hard and focused, causing field goals instead of TDs.  In contrast, a penalty against the Bengals on O or D is a death knell.

In sum, the contrasts speak for themselves.  I thought the culture of losing had been forever extirpated by Marvin Lewis, but like a sinus infection, it came back with a vengeance.  6-10 is a stretch at the moment (right now, I would rate the Bengals in the bottom five of the NFL).  As always, however, hope springs eternal for the next game.  After all, Baltimore is pretty bad - then again, so was Buffalo.

I've reached the point of desperation that I now get my joy by cheering against teams.  I can no longer measure my weekends by a Bengal's win or loss (I would just be depressed all the time then).  Rather, I will relish in the misery of other fans that I despise - Ravens, Steelers, Browns, Redskins, or Cowboys loss = good weekend.  Much like my joy in watching Duke basketball or Michigan football lose, I hereby pledge to focus my negative energy on the above mentioned teams.  If some of them don't make the playoffs, then they are just a lesser degree of loser than the Bengals.  After all, the last team and the first team out of the playoff picture spend the offseason in the same place.  But I digress.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.