At least the Bengals weren't the only ones.
That's the optimistic outlook from many fans putting perspective on Cincinnati's 24-21 loss Sunday. Because when it's all said and done, the Bengals followed the beat of a disastrous drum this weekend with the AFC North. Now, of all the teams in the AFC North, we're comfortable saying that Cincinnati actually had the best performance. Whether or not that's a shocking revelation on how bad the division was, or perhaps a positive spin on an otherwise depressing loss for the Bengals, that's your call.
It all started Thursday night when the Baltimore Ravens put the label of self-respecting Super Bowl champions in a blender and shredded the division's preseason prognostications. Not that we have a problem with that. In fact, as a supporter of a team competing against the Ravens this year, the emotional stock on our Friday at work jumped significantly. The Baltimore Ravens, with seven new starting defensive players, allowed 49 points to Peyton Manning and... well, it was pretty much all Manning.
Pittsburgh opened the season hosting the Tennessee Titans with a 2-0 lead after one second ticked off the regular season clock. Titans running back Darius Reynaud took the opening kickoff with his left foot out of the end zone, reached out and grabbed the football before it broke the plain and took a knee. Safety. Then Tennessee scored 16 unanswered points before the Steelers scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, losing 16-9.
Cleveland's defense actually looked good for a spell against the Miami Dolphins. But then the Browns offense was (wow) bad. Despite nearly reaching 300 yards of offense, the Browns converted only one of 14 third down opportunities, turned the football over five times -- including three Brandon Weeden first half interceptions -- and Miami sacked Weeden six times. Look, if Weeden is going to attempt 53 passes, you've lost.
The Cincinnati Bengals weren't alone. The AFC North took one on the chin. The biggest difference is that the Bengals were actually securing their win when they collapsed. Everyone else... just collapsed.