Wednesday, December 27, 2006
You Have Killed Me
After 15 years of relying on the tried an true tactic of consistent and embarrassing ineptitude, the Cincinnati Bengals football franchise has discovered a far more effective means of torturing the people of Southwestern Ohio. Their new plan (which has been in development since the hiring of head coach Marvin Lewis in 2003) was finally unveiled in its full glory on Christmas Eve in Denver's INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium last Sunday. No longer satisfied with suffering humiliating blowouts in meaningless late season games, the Bengals have moved on to perfecting the art of the heartbreaking loss. Certainly, the precedent for this kind of a loss existed within the storied history of the franchise (see Montana, Joe or Knee Surgery, Reconstructive), but this recent defeat was special not necessarily because of external forces acting upon the Bengals, but the repeated internal combustion of said Bengals. This game featured a number of new twists. The Cincinnati defense and offensive line played very well, while the marquee position players made costly mistakes, turning the ball over four times. And then for the icing on the cake, the Bengals recovered from their sloppy play for the last three minutes of the game, driving all the way down the field in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter to eventually score on a 10 yard TD pass to Houshmandzadeh. Then, on the ensuing PAT attempt, Brad St. Louis' snap was fumbled by Kyle Larson. The Bengals then attempted an onside kick and recovered it, only to have the play nullified by an offsides penalty. As a result of this game (and it's effect on the people of the Greater Cincinnati area), military officials in Guantanamo Bay are now rumored to be contacting the Bengals franchise to gather more information about their ground-breaking mass torture techniques.
There's nothing quite like having your holiday weekend interrupted by a game like this one. You could have given me an autographed copy of The Queen is Dead for Christmas after the game, and I wouldn't have given a shit. My 12 year old cousin asked me during the game if I was going to cry if the Bengals lost (he could tell I was little invested), and I told him "No, but I'll probably want to". That pretty much sums it up. I went through the motions at the Christmas Eve dinner, then tried to distract myself by doing a puzzle with my Aunt (and believe me, I kicked that puzzle's ASS). It was not a very Merry Christmas.
By far the most horrifying repercussion of the loss though, was not my foul mood on Christmas Eve. It was the fact that I was subjected to watch (and care about) the Jets-Dolphins game on Monday night. The game also had fantasy implications for me, as I was down by 9 points in the championship game of my secondary league. My only remaining player was the Dolphins defense. Halftime score: 0-0. If the Dolphins can just kick a field goal...but no, the Jets score the game's first points. Wait, but then the Dolphins score a touchdown! Holy shit, an offensive explosion courtesy of some guy named Cleo Lemon who my playoff hopes now rest on. Dolphins are up 7-3, and there's no way Pennington can do any more than get the Jets in field goal range again. Wrong again, Chad throws his first pass of longer than 20 yards for a TD and the Jets lead 10-7. This happens after he ridiculously underthrows a pass directly at a Dolphins cornerback named Andre Goodman, who of course, dropped it. This cost me a fantasy football championship, and a playoff berth. But the Dolphins still have a chance. Lemon is driving them down the field. They're in the red zone and almost make a first down on the Jets six. It's fourth and inches, but lucky for me, the Dolphins have nothing to play for and they're at home, so they're definitely going for it. I can see the QB sneak in my head (the Dolphins line was manhandling the Jets' front all game long) until I look at the TV where I see the Dolphins field goal unit head onto the field. Nick Saban. You. Are. A Pussy. The Dolphins tie the game, then promptly give up 60 yards to the Jets on a screen pass. Mike Nugent hits the chip shot to win the game, and it sure looks like the Jets, and not the Bengals, are heading to the playoffs. Which is a travesty really. I have a better arm than Pennington. I do, I swear. The only good thing about having to watch this game is that it made me realize that the Jets could actually lose to the Raiders. I'm not saying it will happen, but it's possible. The Raiders defense will probably have to score, but Jets could lose to ANYBODY. Unfortunately, so could the Bengals. Except for Cleveland. We own them. Who Dey?