Brad's Blog - 12/16/13
So the Patriots are down Rob Gronkowski heading to Miami with a chance to clinch the AFC East. Essentially it was a "pick em" game. Miami was playing for its playoff life and on a little bit of a run. The Pats jumped out to a 10-0 lead like they were ready to play. The game went back and forth with Brady re-taking the lead with 4 minutes left. After Ryan Tannehill re-claimed the lead with a minute and a half remaining, Brady got his team on the doorstep again. He threw a pick in the end zone with 2 seconds left. It left people scratching their collective heads wondering the last time the Patriots had a chance to clinch a division title and failed to capitalize. That's the Patriots.
Following the Pats loss, the Bengals were then being talked about by the national pundits as maybe the most complete team in the AFC. Maybe Cincinnati was ripe to run the table and potentially earn the #1 seed in the playoffs, certainly #2. They had a chance to sweep the Steelers in Heinz Field on a wintery, blustery night fitting for this rivalry. Surely, the Bengals would come to play with so much at stake.
A dropped snap, near safety, 1-yard TD plunge, completely inept offense, 14-yard TD toss to Brown, 67-yard punt return TD and broken jaw later... the Bengals were down 24-0.
What was it Dennis Green said? "They are who we thought they were!"
Trying to shake this "Bungles" label is a tough thing. Every team has bad games. When you're playing for playoff seeding, and showing the football nation (not to mention yourselves) who you are, the Sunday night visual from Heinz Field is tough to erase.
Andrew Whitworth said in the locker room after the game that he wasn't going to allow people to talk about them like a 5-9 team when they're 9-5 with everything in front of them.
That's what leaders are supposed to say. Unfortunately, you can't stop people from talking like they're 5-9. This city has seen it too many times in the last three decades.
As I'm writing this, I heard Tony Dungy say, "I was so disappointed to see that last night. You're playing your arch-rivals and they just didn't come out and match the energy of the Steelers. You just can't have that."
The Bengals are 9-5. They have two home games to play. They can still clinch the AFC North. They still have a shot at a bye. People are talking.
Are the Bengals who you thought they were?