Unfortunately for the Bengals, there are more ways to play an incomplete game than their is to put everything together and play a complete one. There's only one way to play a complete game: play good on offense, defense and special teams and do that from the opening kick off to the final whistle blow. There are a lot of ways to play an incomplete game and the Bengals are beginning to get really good at all of them. When their defense shows up and plays like they did last year, the offense goes on vacation. When the offense crawls out of their hole, the defense decides it's time to take a late lunch break. If both the offense and the defense are playing well, then it's probably late in the game and it's too little too late. Hopefully the Bengals start winning but hopefully it's not too little too late on the season.
For some strange reason, the football gods have decided to curse the Bengals this season. When they are driving down the field, the gods see it fit to keep them out of the end zone. When the Bengals defense has put a high powered offense in a third and long situation in a crucial point in the game, the gods bless the opposing offense with a first down. It seems that no matter how hard the Bengals push in the right direction, fate, or some higher power, pushes right back. Just when the Bengals defense scores a touchdown and the Bengals are within a touchdown of tying the game, Cedric Benson drops the ball without being touched (by anything you could see). Atlanta recovers the fumble, scores a touchdown and the Bengals couldn't recover without recovering their own onside kick.
Now, I don't actually believe that there is some sort of high council of past coaches and players that sit in some giant, gold plated coaching booth in the sky. If they do exist, obviously they are Steelers fans this year. What I do believe is that good teams play complete games, good teams play good in both halves and good teams make their own fate. When a team does all of the small things correctly, the big things that they can't necessarily control, like the bounce of a fumble, just tend to go their way. My dad told me that when I was young and I still believe it completely. A football team that is fundamentally sound will win the majority of their games because things just tend to go their way.
Incomplete: Benson practically makes a safety soil himself when they slam heads on a nice run but he fumbles a ball without being touched. Andre Smith can run block like a pro but his pass protection is pretty bad for a first-round pick. Chad Ochocinco drops passes, doesn't run the right routes and doesn't run a route full speed because he thought the ball wasn't coming to him, then in the second half he discovers he has hands, he knows his routes and he hustles. One cornerback gets a beautiful interception in a crucial moment and the other rips a ball out of a receivers hands and scores a touchdown - they also got completely dominated by Roddy White for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. There's more but I'm getting depressed.
The Falcons game was a big one, or it could have been a big one, for the Bengals. Winning against a tough team on the road would give them the confidence needed to move into the toughest portion of their ridiculous schedule. Losing it may do the exact opposite. Next week the Bengals host the Miami Dolphins. The same Dolphins that almost (and should have) knocked the Steelers off their high horse. The Bengals will have to put everything together to beat them. I thought a bye week would help them get their head out of their rear ends. What's going to help them this week?