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Bengals’ clown show adds another embarrassing chapter to their primetime story

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The Cincinnati Bengals entered Sunday’s game with a 1-8 record during Sunday Night Football since Marvin Lewis took over as head coach. Now... 1-9.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

We expected this.


No excuses here. Real-life doesn’t allow mulligans nor accept cases of “what if”.

Still, we expected this. We told ourselves since the Pittsburgh game ended. We prepared ourselves emotionally (or tried). Plan for the worst, hope for the best. We mentioned over the week that the odds were stacked against Cincinnati.

  • Cincinnati’s defense — struggling to contain offenses all season — was missing multiple starters. They were already facing a major challenge against a high-powered Kansas City Chiefs offense led by an exciting young quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.
  • Cincinnati is historically awful during Sunday Night Football (1-9 now during the Marvin Lewis era, with their most recent win coming against the Dolphins in 2004). Say what you will about history, and how that shouldn’t impact today. Maybe it doesn’t. Not directly. However, it’s a trend. With the exception of a handful of games, including Week 2 against the Ravens, the Bengals are dreadful during primetime games.
  • This was a game played in a hostile environment at Arrowhead Stadium.

We didn’t expect Cincinnati to pull out a win; hope and belief are amazing attributes, but that’s not reality. All we could hope for was a competitive game and a prayer the Bengals wouldn’t embarrass themselves.

What we got was a clown show.

The Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t have embarrassed themselves more.

During their five first-half possessions, Cincinnati secured eight first downs — six coming on one drive against the league’s worst-ranked defense (statistically speaking). Tyler Boyd and John Ross generated a combined zero receptions in the first two quarters. Alex Redmond was fiercely bull-rushed and Bobby Hart was outclassed. Andy Dalton capped Cincinnati’s struggle with an interception that Ron Parker returned 33 yards for a touchdown. With 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Chiefs were already winning 38-7.

Unfortunately, it was over by halftime; we’re not even talking about it.

Kansas City took a 21-7 lead with 1:55 remaining in the second quarter. Cincinnati responded with a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, only eliminating 42 seconds before Mahomes’ squad resumed from their own 20-yard line with 1:13 remaining. They reached the Bengals’ eight-yard line where Harrison Butker secured a 24-7 lead with a 26-yard chip shot. Despite Marvin Lewis’ experience, his approach to clock management evades common sense.

Cincinnati’s defense — despite not having cornerback Darqueze Dennard nor linebacker Nick Vigil — were embarrassingly outclassed. We get it. Kansas City is exciting. They’re flashy. We also know — or at least some of us finally realized — that Cincinnati’s defense can’t defend against the league’s better offenses.

This is not a playoff team right now. You can thank the defense for that.

Players were sucking air by the second quarter, failing to counter Kansas City’s exhaustive speed. There were more missed tackles than actual tackles, making it appear that Kansas City’s pregame workout included a quick plunge into a vat of oily butter. Superstars like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap failed to make an impact. Vontaze Burfict is a malicious shadow — we overwhelming had hoped would help the defense rebound. Our hope was obviously misplaced.

It was 45-10 with 12:50 remaining in the game.

Perhaps we should have a conversation about Teryl Austin.

Even special teams got into the act. Clayton Fedejelem intercepted Clark Harris’ snap during a second quarter punt. However, the football repelled against Fedejelem’s hand and he recovered around the 32-yard line. Kansas City took a 14-0 lead four plays later.

This was disgusting.

It’s fireable.

You can make excuses. I won’t stop you.

The reality is, they lost. They were unprepared. They embarrassed themselves. They lacked professional pride.

A loss would have been understandable.

But this?

This wasn’t just a loss.

This was embarrassing.