Talk about a letdown. Once again we loyal Bengal fans were treated with a pathetic display of football on the national stage. This was the year that the Bengals were finally going to take the next step and put to rest all the talk of being a team that can't win when it counts. This defense was the best, the offense was filled with weapons and the coaching staff learned from the mistakes of the past.
Yet, it was the same outcome. The Bengals beat the Bengals and the fans were left heartbroken.
There is going to be plenty of time to hash over who's at fault. There will probably be thousands of discussions on the future of Andy Dalton, Marvin Lewis, Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer.
Hats off to the Chargers, they came into Cincinnati and beat a team that seemed unbeatable at home. Sure, they had a lot of help. There was questionable playcalling, terrible decisions, bad blocking, fumbles, dropped passes and plenty of other aides in the Chargers win. But, San Diego took care of what they needed to.
The question becomes what now? Can the Bengals continue on the same path and expect a different outcome?
I don't know all the stats of the Bengals since 1990 in big games and right now I am not interested. This is an emotional post and fact digging on those stats don't fit into my MO. I do know that the product on the field in the playoff game is not the same one we watched all season. I do know that this happens far too often.
Something has to change.
Look, this isn't a call to arms. I will not be purchasing billboard space or flying a banner over training camp. I will, however, communicate my displeasure when I have the opportunity. Two times this year I had a chance to talk to Mike Brown. I met Marvin Lewis four times. Katie Blackburn invited me to a private event. I expect similar situations to arise this year and when they do I will simply let them know that as a fan who spends quite a bit of money with this team, the outcome stinks.
I am going to let them know that when they send out their request for cash in next years season ticket renewal forms, please don't highlight that the Bengals make the playoffs every year. That would be salt in a wound that I am sure will still be open. I would prefer a letter that said something like:
"Look, we could feed you a bunch of lines about how this year is different, but until we prove it then it is just some words on paper. So enclosed you will find your season ticket renewal form. You know how much fun you have over the season going to games so think of that when you write your check. We both know you are going to renew, so just try and get it in before the end of July. Thanks for being awesome."
I also won't attack my fellow fans. While we may disagree on certain issues, it gives me no pleasure in berating you for it. Some of you need that, i get it. When you say you quit this team, I know some time soon that black and orange will creep back and you will be shouting "WhoDey" with the rest of them. It's how you cope, so cope on. I, on the other hand, have become a lightning rod on twitter for fan aggression. It's cool though, I kind of dig it. Let me be your punching bag, I can take it. You won't hurt my feelings.
In the end we are all Bengals fans and will continue to be. If you can sell your fandom on Ebay, then you weren't really a fan in the first place. So just like 24 other teams fans in the NFL, see you next season.
(But keep checking CincyJungle often for all the latest news on the team you know deep down you love.)