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Burying the Ball: Moving on from the Bengals’ Wild Card loss

The 2016 Wild Card game between the Bengals and Steelers broke our hearts over and over and over again. Now, we say our final goodbye to one of the most memorable (for all the wrong reasons) games in Cincinnati Bengals history.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We’re done.

The Bengals’ Wild Card loss may have happened in 2016, but for the sake of this blog, just consider the loss came in the 2015 season rather than in the year 2016 (even though it did).

It’s 2016. This is a new year for the Bengals. Cincinnati’s rivalry with Pittsburgh will live on, but dwelling on the team’s heartbreaking playoff loss is getting old. Fans have made their opinions on this topic very clear, and we wholeheartedly and painstakingly done the same. So with the first game of the 2016 calendar year on Friday, we’re burying the ball.

The national media will bring up the Bengals’ Wild Card loss at every possible chance throughout the 2016 season—heck, the “Andy Dalton is only an average quarterback” narrative has been run into the ground, yet it still pops up on what seems like a daily basis and in every conversation I’ve had pertaining to the Bengals.

But here at Cincy Jungle, the ball is buried. No more stories about how Martavis Bryant’s catch wasn’t a catch. No more stories about Ryan Shazier’s dirty hit and classless celebration. No more stories about Joey Porter’s antics on the field, Mike Munchak’s childish hair-pulling stunt, the NFL’s mishandling of the entire situation or the referees losing control of the game.

The Bengals-Steelers matchup at Paul Brown Stadium was a disaster. Players, coaches and fans of both allegiances were at fault. The Bengals’ loss was heart-wrenching, and it ended what was the best season of football I’ve ever watched. After that, I couldn’t watch a single playoff game (Super Bowl aside, though I really didn’t even pay much attention to it) because I was so heartbroken. I’m sure most Bengals fans are in the same boat.

We’ve covered the loss plenty. If you ever want to come back and re-hash the topic, here are some of my favorite related pieces that have gone up on the site:

If you’re looking for heartbreak:

The whole staff did a great job trying to be as objective as possible in what was more than likely the most devastating point of Bengals fandom in the team’s history—past, present or future. That being said, it’s hard to be completely objective when your heart is being ripped out of your chest.

4 thoughts from Bengals' crushing loss to Steelers in 2016 Wild Card matchup

Bengals vs Steelers: What they're saying following Wild Card disaster

Why the Bengals vs Steelers Wild Card matchup made me sour

NFL officials botched many calls in Steelers vs Bengals Wild Card game

If you’re looking to laugh:

Mickey’s entire “Opposing Outlook” series had me in tears every time a new blog went up. And for the Steeler fans who think he was being unfair to the team’s fanbase, he posted an “Opposing Outlook” piece in every week of the season (and no other fanbase cared, they actually thought it was funny).

Opposing Outlook: Part 1

Opposing Outlook: Part 2

Opposing Outlook: Part 3

Opposing Outlook: Part 4

If you’re looking for optimism:

Cincinnati’s gut-wrenching loss brought invoked a ton of emotion, and from the midst of emotion, our staff interjected some very useful insight and much-needed optimism into the conversation.

Issues aside, you want Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones on your team

Winners and losers from Bengals' 18-16 Wild Card loss to Steelers

If you think the NFL needs to free Vontaze Burfict:

Vontaze Burfict suspension is a bold, unprecedented PR move by the NFL

9 players more deserving of 3-game suspensions than Vontaze Burfict

If you want it all:

Steelers vs Bengals Wild Card: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Bengals vs Steelers: What we learned from 2016 Wild Card matchup

With that, we’re done. (Preseason) football is here and Week 1 can’t come soon enough.

2016 Wild Card matchup, you wouldn’t go away all offseason, but now, we bid you farewell.