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Time to step up as Bengals fans, don't fuel Steelers with meaningless boos

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The Bengals have become one of the most consistent and well run organizations in the NFL. It is safe to say, the organization has changed - and for the better. It is time us fans do the same.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Bengals fans,

I write this not from a soap box or some high horse, but as a Bengals fan of 35 years who wants nothing more than to see my favorite football team break through a 25 year playoff drought and make a run at a Super Bowl Championship. I write this as a former season ticket holder who has attended many games and booed plenty of times. I also write this as a fan who has given up booing cold turkey - no patch, no gum - and I am asking you to hear me out and do the same.

This Sunday, thousands of fans will descend upon Paul Brown Stadium, bringing with them stupid yellow dish rags and claiming their team to be god's gift to football. They wave their towels and live in the past. We Bengals fans are not alone in our hatred for these boisterous fans and we love to complain about them, their obnoxious behavior, their football superiority complex , and most of all, their towels.

All week long we've heard and will continue to hear pleas from fans and local media alike, urging fans not to sell their tickets to Steelers fans (or on the open market). We will hear fans hypothesize ticket distribution tactics designed to keep tickets out of the hands of Steelers fans. But all of this talk is a waste of our collective breath.

Truth be told, the Steelers fans in Paul Brown Stadium may total 5,000; 10,000 if they are lucky. For those who don't know, Paul Brown Stadium seats 65,515 and with standing room, some 67,000 crazies will likely be in attendance Saturday night. Translation, Steelers fans will be outnumbered on Saturday somewhere between 7 or 9 to 1 by fans cloaked in orange and black, shouting WHO DEY and "rooting" for the local football team. The collective cheers of the Steelers fans will not affect the home team and will be drowned out by the cheering locals.

However, with all the talk of the Bengals' primetime struggles, playoff struggles and struggles against the Steelers in general (particularly at home), there is one thing which could/and may affect the Bengals... if we as fans let it. Boos. The booing of 20,000-50,000 "fans"cannot be drowned out, and worse yet, it is exactly what the Steelers want. If for no other reason, I am asking you not to boo, because by doing so, you are not just helping, but energizing and fueling your most hated rival.

I am not sitting here saying I don't understand booing. I do. I get it. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket for this weekend's game, you probably put a $200-$500 dent in your pocket...per seat (once you figure in parking, food, beer, etc.)! I don't care what you do for a living, that is a ton of cash for a few hours of watching football. You spent a lot of money and you absolutely have a right to boo if you don't like the performance of the home team. But having the right to boo doesn't mean you should boo if and when adversity strikes (and it may).

Think about it. You laid down that type of cash why? Because you want to see the Bengals win, right? After all, you claim to be a Bengals fan. So, let me ask you these questions: as a Bengals fan, you most assuredly have seen the team booed in the past. But I would ask you, when have you ever seen the booing work? When you are booing, what is your reason? You are upset/frustrated by the performance of the team and coaches - I get it. You want them to win, right? But, do you honestly believe the players and coaches don't want to win? Do you think they like hearing of their playoff struggles less than you do? Do you think they like being discounted in the playoffs and big games? Do you think the players and coaches don't realize when they are sucking? Do you honestly think your booing is helping the team win or turn around their fortunes? If so, in what delusional world are you living? If not, then don't boo.

If you boo, in your mind, you are utilizing your given right to boo in an effort to show the team your displeasure. Understood. You are also of the belief that your boos somehow will help your team realize they are sucking and by letting them know they are sucking, they will miraculously be able to turn things around. Makes sense, right? Wrong. All you do is fuel the opponent...especially a Steelers team that is 14-3 in your house.

Before I tell you what actually happens when fans boo, let me give you some perspective and stats to keep in mind before you attend the game on Saturday:

The Bengals are better than the Steelers - and have been since Andy Dalton entered the league in 2011. When you stop laughing, here are the facts:

  • Since Andy Dalton took over the Bengals in 2011, the Bengals are 52-27-1 (.650). Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers are 49-31 (.613). Since 2011, the Bengals have been to the playoffs all five years. The Steelers? Three (2011, 2014, 2015).

I know, but the Bengals don't win once they get there. Agreed.

Since 2011, the Steelers have as many playoff victories as the Bengals...zero.

While the Bengals have played beatable opponents, they have been favored in one of their four playoff losses under Andy Dalton (San Diego). The Steelers have been favored in both of their losses - by three at home to the Ravens (2014) and by eight+ on the road against the Tim Tebow-led Broncos (2011). The Steelers will be favored again on Saturday.

If you're going to argue that Dalton has been terrible and Ben Roethlisberger is a big time quarterback who plays well in the playoffs, I have news for you. In 15 playoff games, Roethlisberger has 21 touchdowns and 19 interceptions - a 1.1 TD/INT ration and more than a pick a game. In fact, in his nine playoff games since the Steelers 2005 Super Bowl run, Roethlisberger has thrown more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (14). In his only two playoff games since 2011, Roethlisberger has two touchdowns, three interceptions, one fumble, a passer rating around 77.5 and has been sacked 10 times. Hardly the numbers of a "big time" quarterback.

In 2015, Roethlisberger is averaging 1.3 interceptions per game (2 per game against the Bengals). Dalton and AJ McCarron are averaging 0.54 and 0.50 respectively.

The only place the Steelers have outperformed the Bengals since 2011 is head-to-head matchups - most notably in Cincinnati. This is where my argument for ending the booing begins.


Record

Winning %

Bengals Record             (since 2011)

52-27-1

.650

Record vs Steelers        (since 2011)

3-7

.300

Record vs Rest of NFL (since 2011)

49-20-1

.817

Bengals Record @PBS (since 2011)

27-12-1

.675

Record vs Steelers @PBS (since 2011)

1-4

.200

Record @PBS vs Rest of NFL (since 2011)

26-8-1

.743

Steelers Road Record  (since 2011)

20-20

.500

Record vs Bengals @PBS (since 2011)

4-1

.800

Steelers Road Record vs Rest of NFL (since 2011)

16-19

.457

Bengals Div. Titles       (since 2011)

2

40%

Steelers Div. Titles      (since 2011)

1

20%

Bengals Playoff App. (since 2011)

5

100%

Steelers Playoff App. (since 2011)

3

60%

Bengals Playoff wins (since 2011)

0

Steelers Playoff wins (since 2011)

0

Bengals Playoff record as Favorite (since 2011)

0-1

Steelers Playoff record as Favorite (since 2011)

0-2

Marvin Lewis Wild Card Record

0-6

.000

Mike Tomlin Wild Card Record

0-3

.000

Marvin Lewis Home Playoff Record

0-3

.000

Mike Tomlin Road Playoff Record

0-1

.000

Bengals Record @PBS vs Steelers All-Time

3-14

.176

As you can see from the stats above, the Bengals' struggles against the Steelers are not because the Steelers have been the better team. Quite the opposite. But for whatever reason, the Steelers have the edge when these two teams get together. Two things stick out to me: since 2011, the Bengals have won 74.3 percent of their home games against teams not named the Steelers (26-8-1) and just 20 percent of their home games against the Steelers (1-4). Conversely, in road games not in Cincinnati, the Steelers have won just 45.7 percent their games (16-19), but have won 80 percent of their road games in Cincinnati. Clearly, the Steelers have an edge in Cincinnati and it has nothing to do with talent.  Call it a mental edge, call it a "big brother" edge, call it what you want - but it exists.

So here is what is actually happening when you boo.

As I laid out above, the team (and coaches) have a history of failing at home against the Steelers; and on primetime; and in the playoffs. All three of these things will be in play Saturday night. Any team, hell, any person, with a history of failure - real or perceived - starts to get the feeling of "here we go again" when things go wrong. We have heard players talk about this in the past - it is the same feeling we get as fans. We get that unnerving feeling of seasons past.  Do you think this team and these coaches don't know their record against the Steelers, or the fact they have lost in the first round the last four seasons or haven't won a playoff game since Moses parted the Red Sea? The team is already going to be tense and the boos are only going to make matters worse. The negative energy starts the ball rolling and as we have seen in the past, the team can't get it to stop.

Players start trying too hard and taking unnecessary risks - which only exacerbates the problem (go watch the San Diego playoff game in 2013 if you want a recent example). Things can unravel. Remember the game in Pittsburgh this season? The Bengals were terrible and sucked for the first 50+ minutes...until all the sudden they stopped sucking and won 16-10 with a late touchdown, interception and field goal. You think that comeback happens in Paul Brown Stadium where they are being peppered with boos? We will never know, but I have 15 years of data to tell me it's doubtful.

If you don't buy my argument above, here is the one you should buy: the opponent feeds off the booing (especially the Steelers). Getting the home crowd to turn on the home team and start booing is exactly what the opponent wants - and exactly what the Steelers have been able to do in the past. It is exactly why they believe they own this team, this stadium, this city and you, the fans. Your booing fuels your most hated team. Your booing will energize the Steelers far more than the cheers of their meekly 5,000 fans.