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Close losses feel worse than blowout losses

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This season, the Bengals have suffered three blowout losses and no close losses. But to me, they don't feel as bad as past close losses.

John Grieshop

It's safe to say the Bengals have had three blowout losses so far this season. How did you feel about them compared to close losses in the past?

If you are a fan of moral victories, then close losses aren't as bad as blowout losses. No team ever plays "very well" in a loss, but in close losses there are often a handful of positives to take away. I do care about the process to a degree, though I don't care much for moral victories by the Bengals.

However, close losses can feel agonizing because of one (or perhaps a few) missed opportunity, fluke play, silly penalty, or bad referee call that would have surely resulted in a victory had it gone the other way. This definitely applies for me.

If wins or losses are cared about more than the process, then blowout losses might not be as bad, because you have "good value" out of a blowout loss. Maybe this is a little silly, but it might be somewhat of a silver lining. Indeed, process-wise the Bengals had a season's worth of losses on Thursday night, yet in the official column it was only one loss. The team can learn from it and move on, while suffering only a single loss to show for it and nothing more. Unless a team is barren of talent, it should be able to see a rebound soon.

The Bengals have a point differential of minus-14. They could have been something like 3-6, yet they are two games over .500 and second in their division. The Bengals, as a team, might be a little fortunate to have played like complete @#$% in three specific games that they likely would have never won anyway against opponents who were at their peak level of performance at the time, instead of playing like mild @#$% throughout the entire schedule and thus losing a handful of winnable games. Technically, they've gotten very good value out of their losses, if that makes any sense. Not a great feeling, but less agonizing than losing a greater number of close games. Even though they might be equal process-wise, I'll gladly accept 3 blowout losses against overachieving opponents, instead of 6 close/winnable losses.

If you don't like surprises, than blowout losses aren't as bad. The writing is on the wall early, and there is almost no false hope and certainly no late-fourth-quarter massive letdown, like in close losses. It's not exactly a relief, but it's not as agonizing. And I personally do not like surprises at all.

In blowout losses, there is little agonizing over one or two missed opportunities, bad referee calls, silly penalties, or plays that could have swung the other way. That's because the score margin would be too much to make any difference in the final result. After blowout losses, I personally feel resigned, but I am not as agonized as I would be after a close loss.

During the Marvin Lewis era...(Not hating on Marvin specifically, because all NFL teams suffer close losses. I'm simply using the beginning of his tenure as a starting point.)

Close losses (especially notable ones in bold)

2003:

Bengals fall in OT to Bills 22-16, lead for much of the game but give it up in the fourth quarter and then in OT.

Bengals fall to Cardinals 17-14, a questionable holding call essentially gifts the Cardinals an eventual game-winning TD.

2004:

Bengals fall to Jets 31-24, a Jets defensive TD off a Rudi Johnson fumble is the difference.

Bengals fall to Titans 27-20, Carson Palmer loses a fumble inside the Titans 10-yard line with about two minutes left.

Bengals fall to Steelers 19-14, a James Farrior pick-six (defensive TD) is the difference.

Bengals fall to Patriots 35-28, turn it over twice inside the red zone, and also surrender a pick-six.

2005:

Bengals fall to Jags 23-20, turn it over twice in Jags territory in the fourth quarter, and the Bengals special teams had a silly illegal touching on a punt, as well as a Kyle Larson blocked punt, both leading to easy Jags scores.

2006

Bengals fall to Bucs 14-13, are victims of an awful (unnecessary) unnecessary roughness call on Justin Smith (it was a typical sack-fumble-recovery on future Bengal Bruce Gradkowski) that if judged correctly would have sealed a Bengals victory, thus bailing the Bucs out and allowing them to score a TD (above photo) with 35 seconds left and get away with a tainted win.

Bengals fall to Chargers 49-41, give up 42 points to the Chargers in the second half, including 4 LaDainian Tomlinson rushing TD's (it looked like a Bengals blowout win early, and it eventually became a close loss).

Bengals fall to Broncos 24-23, a bad snap by Brad St. Louis denies the Bengals a tie game.

Bengals fall in OT to Steelers 23-17, Shayne Graham shanks the would-be game-winning FG to end regulation, then a long TD by Santonio Holmes ends the game and denies the Bengals a playoff berth (WARNING: If you're a Bengals fan, watch this video at your own risk. However, if you're a Steelers fan, this might be the greatest video of all time.)

2007:

Bengals fall to Browns 51-45, Palmer is intercepted deep inside Browns territory to end the game.

Bengals fall to Seahawks 24-21, give up the game-winning TD with a minute left.

Bengals fall to Cardinals 35-27, Palmer throws four pick-sixes (only three of them counted).

Bengals fall to 49ers 20-13, Chad Johnson drops the game-tying TD with 2 minutes left.

2008:

Bengals fall in OT to Giants 26-23, the Giants convert an absolutely miraculous long reception by Amani Toomer, allowing them to kick the game-winning FG.

2009:

Bengals fall to Broncos 12-7, allow a fluke 87-yard TD reception by Brandon Stokley off a tipped pass to end the game (Gus Johnson, you're killing me).

Bengals fall to Raiders 23-20, allow 10 points in the final 30 seconds, first off a long TD pass by future Bengal Bruce Gradkowski, then an Andre Caldwell kickoff fumble gifts the game-winning FG for the Raiders.

Bengals fall to Chargers 27-24, allow the Chargers to move 46 yards in 51 seconds with no timeouts for the game-winning 52-yard FG with 3 seconds left.

2010:

Bengals fall to Bucs 24-21, allow 10 points in the final 1:30, Bengals WR's drop 3 critical passes, and Palmer throws a pick-six.

Bengals fall to Steelers 27-21, are stonewalled inside the red zone to end the game.

Bengals fall to Colts 23-17, Palmer throws a pick-six and then Jermaine Gresham fumbles the ball on the potential go-ahead drive to end the game.

Bengals fall to Saints 34-30, a silly Pat Sims offsides on a Saints game-tying FG attempt gives Drew Brees a free first down and soon after a game-winning TD with 34 seconds left.

Bengals fall to Ravens 13-7, have the ball at the Ravens 2-yard line within the final minute, but can't score on three straight plays.

2011:

Bengals fall to Broncos 24-22, Marvin Lewis opts to go for it on 4th down instead of kick the go-ahead FG, and the Bengals fail.

Bengals fall to Steelers 24-17, Andy Dalton is picked off inside the red zone to end the game.

Bengals fall to Ravens 31-24, the "Calvin Johnson Rule" denies Gresham his game-tying TD.

Bengals fall to Texans 20-19, Geno Atkins fumbles at the Texans 5-yard line before he is about to score a game-sealing defensive TD, then T.J. Yates leads an 80-yard drive in 2 minutes for the game-winning TD to former Bengal Kevin Walter with 8 seconds left.

2012:

Bengals fall to Cowboys 20-19, both the Bengals offense and defense have a meltdown late in the fourth quarter.

Bengals fall to Texans 19-13 in the playoffs, late in the fourth quarter, Dalton misses on an open go-ahead TD to A.J. Green, who has burned former Bengal Johnathan Joseph and and future Bengal Danieal Manning. (I'm not hating on Dalton here. It's just that you can clearly see he misses an open throw, plain and simple.)

2013:

Bengals fall to Bears 24-21, turn the ball over twice in the red zone, and then a silly Rey Maualuga unnecessary roughness penalty denies the Bengals a chance to win.

Bengals fall to Dolphins 22-20 in OT, Geno Atkins has a season-ending ACL tear, then the referees miss a blatant helmet-to-helmet hit by the Dolphins on Mohamed Sanu that if called would seal a Bengals victory (but the Dolphins intercepted the ball on the play), then a Cameron Wake safety ends the game.

Bengals fall to Ravens 20-17 in OT, a Hail Mary play sends the game to OT, but strange playcalling by Jay Gruden prevents the Bengals from doing much in the extra period.


Hopefully you made it through this article without having to jump off a cliff. And that's my point - I honestly felt "less bad" after each of the blowout losses this season, than I did after any of these games. The Bengals are fortunate to be two games over .500 and second in their division. For the most part, the Bengals concentrated their awful play in 3 particular games that they likely would have never won anyway against 3 opponents who were all at peak performance and basically near-unbeatable for anyone.

Those blowout losses weren't fun at all, but they were better than spreading the awfulness throughout the entire schedule and thus losing a greater number of close/winnable games, ones that the Bengals are so familiar with from the past. According to ephram's Fanpost, the Bengals were predicted to go 6-3 up to this point. Considering all of the injuries and other stuff the team has had to overcome, 5-3-1 is not so bad. (Though if Mike Nugent had made his FG against the Panthers, the Bengals would be 6-3, as predicted!)