Mark Curnutte is fit to be tied this morning. No, he's not flippin' angry like most of us. However, he makes points that I find refreshing from our beat writers that keep opinion out of it. I know, I know. Beat writers are not designed to be columnists. Curnutte went on the attack after watching super-stud Bengals practice squad player, Matt Toeaina drop super-rookie Adrian Peterson for losses. Plus, it was Toeaina that forced Tarvaris Jackson to rollout right out of bounds on a critical drive for the Vikings later in the game. That was the same play that Jackson temporarily left the game because of cramps.
One of Curnutte's points? "I would be more upset about the likes of Frostee Rucker, the third round pick in 2006. Why has this second-year defensive end been active only four times this season?"
Point. The practice leading up to regular season game #2 (2006), Rucker re-injured his shoulder that he suffered during preseason and went on IR soon after that. This season, he's played four games of a possible 14.
Remember the 1993 Bengals? ESPN does.
Record: 3-13 (started 0-10)
Synopsis: The things you learn researching the worst teams in history: David Shula, son of Mr. 14-0, lasted four-plus seasons as head coach of the Bengals. This was Year 2 of the Nepotism Experiment, and it didn't go well. David Klingler, the team's No. 1 pick in 1992, replaced Boomer Esiason at QB and discovered NFL defenses were tougher than Eastern Washington's. The Bengals finished last in points, second to last in yards and rushed for just three TDs all season (Eric Ball, Derrick Fenner and Ostell Miles tied for the team lead with one). Harold Green, who had actually been a Pro Bowler in '92, led the team in rushing …while averaging 2.7 yards per carry. The defense actually allowed the fewest pass completions in the league -- but that's only because it was so easy to run on.
The quest ends: The Los Angeles Raiders came to town in late November at 6-4, but they were coached by Art Shell, so you knew Cincy had a chance. Plus, it was snowing (it seems the best way to end a losing streak may be to schedule a snow game) and the wind was swirling. Raiders QB Jeff Hostetler completed just two first-half passes as the Bengals built a 10-0 lead. While Bengals kicker Doug Pelfrey hit field goals of 45, 34 and 44 yards, Raiders kicker Jeff Jaeger missed four attempts. After a last-gasp Raiders onside kick went out of bounds, Shula hugged his assistants and several Bengals players raised their arms as they ran off the field. A key play in the fourth quarter was Lee Johnson's 56-yard punt over the head of Tim Brown to the 1-yard line. "It was pure luck," Johnson explained.
On a positive note: The Bengals gave the game ball to the son of backup QB Jay Schroeder, who had brain surgery for a benign tumor two days before the game. "A couple of very happy endings today," Schroeder said. "It just reminds you, the game isn't life and death."
Notable: In USA Today, Tom Weir wrote, "These haven't been good times for the Bengals. To see how far they have fallen since their Super Bowl appearance of 1989, all you need to know is that Ickey Woods, creator of the Ickey Shuffle that defined Cincinnati's happier times, is now selling meat door-to-door in Indiana." Things wouldn't be getting any happier: While the Bengals managed to win twice more in '93, Shula would finish 19-52 as an NFL head coach, and the Bengals would have a 14-year streak of nonwinning seasons.
Pete Prisco graded the Bengals Saturday performance with a big fat "F". Only two other teams got Pete's bad grade -- the Lions who lost 51-14 and the Falcons. Of the Bengals performance, Prisco says, "Losing this game is a sign they've packed it in. The offense moved but couldn't score. The defense allowed the bad 49ers offense to look sharp." Pretty much what we already knew.