I like Marvin Lewis. A lot. I like the professional way in which he has represented the Bengals over the years. I like the way he has reached out to players in personal distress and seen many of them turn their lives around. I like the many contributions he has made to his community. Coach Marvin Lewis has exemplified likability and loyalty which are two character qualities that go a long way with owner Mike Brown and the Cincinnati fan base.
However, there comes a time when NFL coaches need to win football games. That time has come for Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. We all know what a tremendous man Coach Lewis is. He has proven himself in those areas, but its time to win.
Yesterday’s loss is clearly on Coach Lewis and his staff. The Bengals are are a clearly superior team to the Cleveland Browns. Many have predicted the Bengals to play in the Super Bowl, or at least go deep into the play-offs. They have added tremendous talent on both sides of the ball. They have drafted well and made key free agents acquisitions. They have a quality team that is loaded with talent and ability.
So why does such a talented and superior team line-up against a struggling opponent and play as poorly as the Bengals played yesterday? Coaching. Preparing a team to play well and demanding that from your players is squarely on the head coach. And it appears that Marvin Lewis, as likable as he may be, simply cannot get his team fired up enough to beat an inferior opponent with a quarterback making only is second start in the NFL.
The Bengals were not just defeated yesterday. They were manhandled. The high powered offense that supposedly makes defensive coordinators lose sleep was totally silenced by the Browns defense. The Bengals ferocious defensive front allowed a rookie quarterback to play like a Hall of Famer. No passion. No emotion. No determination to win, and that is on the head coach. Perhaps losing has become acceptable to an organization so familiar with it.
If it were not for a double fumble and a crazy, fortuitous bounce at the end of the Bengals-Packers game the team with such a high ceiling would be 1-3 right now. With the Patriots next on the schedule don’t expect winning to get any easier in the near future.
I like that I like you Coach Lewis, but the time has come to win.
The Bengals and Packers combined for one of the most bizarre finishes in NFL history yesterday. The Bengals took an early lead by scoring 14 quick points with the help of a special teams turnover. The fumble and resulting quick touchdown did nothing, however, to demoralize the Packers. Aaron Rodgers, in his typical cool-headed manner, marched his team up and down the field on the Bengals defense. In the process, the Cheeseheads scored 30 unanswered points to take a 30-14 lead late into the fourth quarter.
That’s when things really got crazy! Nearing the 4 minute mark, the Packers appeared to gain a first down on a rushing play in Bengals territory. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis challenged the spot claiming that the runner was down before reaching first down yardage. After review, the call was reversed and the ball spotted behind the first down marker, leaving the Packers at 4th and inches.
The routine call would have been for the Packers to kick a field goal and add to their point lead. However, in a decision that Green Bay fans will second guess for a long time, the Packers went for it on 4th down. Aaron Rodgers handed the ball off to rookie running back, Jonathon Franklin who went off tackle right. A stout Bengals D-line stuffed Franklin and in the course of play, he fumbled the ball which was picked up by Bengal safety Reggie Nelson. After taking just a few steps toward the end zone, Nelson was tackled, and he too fumbled the ball. This time it took a few fortuitous bounces and landed in the lap of Bengals cornerback Terrance Newman who ran it back 58 yards for a Bengals touchdown. The score gave the Bengals a 34-30 lead with just 3:47 left in the game.
Bengal fans cringed as they watched Aaron Rodgers engineer a last minute drive that was ultimately thwarted by a incomplete pass on 4th down. The Bengals athletic defensive end, Michael Johnson, went airborne to swat down what may have been a game winning touchdown pass. Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense then sealed the win by taking a knee on two subsequent offensive snaps.
For a franchise that knows the sting of defeat all to well its nice that the Bengals had the ball bounce their way for a change. Literally.
- Bengals barely outlast Packers in wild turnover-fest (cbssports.com)
- NFL: A painful loss for the Packers, who watch the Bengals win on a late fumble return (host.madison.com)
- Newman’s Return Rallies Bengals Over Packers 34-30 (abcnews.go.com)
- Newman’s return rallies Bengals over Packers 34-30 (timesleader.com)
Carlos Gomez has done it to the Reds again!
In the 9th inning of Saturday’s game, Gomez tracked a well hit fly ball off the bat of Jay Bruce to the centerfield wall. At precisely the right moment Gomez elevated to catch the ball above the wall and rob Bruce of a three run homer. In the bottom of the 9th, Brewers infielder Sean Halton hit a walk off home run to defeat the Reds 6-5. With the Reds battling the Cardinals, Pirates, and Nationals for a play-off spot, the loss was especially painful for players and fans alike. At this point in the season ever game is critical and the Reds let a 5-1 lead after six innings slip away.
What makes this loss even more painful is that it mirrors a very similar loss to the Brewers on July 9th, 2013 when Carlos Gomez robbed Joey Votto of a potential game winning home run. In much the same way, Gomez ran down Votto’s centerfield shot and leaped above the wall to make the catch. Gomez went so far above the wall that Votto demanded to see the ball in his glove after the catch to confirm that he indeed caught the ball.
Both catches, and several others like them made by Gomez this season, are worthy of the highlight reel. The Brewers will not make the play-offs in 2013 but thanks to Carlos Gomez, the Reds may not either. They are currently 3.5 games out of first place in the National League Central and the Washington Nationals are stalking the Reds for the final Wild Card play-off spot. If the Reds miss the tournament by two games or less they can point to Carlos Gomez and the Miller Field centerfield fence to understand why.
What is the only thing scarier for a Bengals fan than playing the Steelers on Monday Night Football? Playing the Steelers on Monday Night Football after the Steelers were embarrassed the previous week. In week one of the new NFL season the Steelers were manhandled by the Tennessee Titans and lost 16-9 at home. Trust me, that’s not how the Steelers roll. Even though they have been decimated by injuries the Bengals should expect a gut-check performance from the Steelers. It’s just what they do.
The Bengals do have a few things in thier favor this week. First, the game is played in Cincinnati and a home crowd is always a boost. Don’t be surprised though to see plenty of yellow “terrible towels” waving in the night sky. Pittsburgh fans travel like no other fans. I remember games at Riverfront Stadium when more yellow was visible than orange. Secondly, and much more interestingly, James Harrison plays for the Bengals now. The former Steeler, and perhaps, the most frightening defender in the NFL is wearing orange and black instead of the old Steeler uniform. Add to that, he’s not real happy with his former employer. James Harrison knows how to impact a football game – just ask Colt McCoy.
Statistically, since 1990, any team opening the season at 0-2 has only a 12% shot at making the play-offs. With that said, Cincinnati desperately needs to win this game. They gave one away last week to the Chicago Bears and championship teams just don’t give games away that they lead in the fourth quarter. Monday night will go a long way in helping Bengal fans know if their team really does have the goods to deliver on a play-off season or if this is just another mirage in the desert of NFL wishful thinking.
The Reds wrapped up a three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a sweep! And that after taking three of four from the Cardinals. The Reds appear to be peaking at just the right time. However, the Reds are notorious for winning critical games against difficult opponents only to drop three of four against teams they should easily beat. With that said, the Reds need to guard against multiple losses to Chicago this week.
As the pennant race heats up it will be interesting to see if the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to slide. Pirate fans are all too familiar with this scenario. A great season ends with wilting in September. Regardless, it appears that Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis will make the play-offs this year.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. It doesn’t seem to matter that the Cincinnati Bengals have drastically improved on paper. On the field, it’s still looking like the 90’s.
The Bengals found a way to give a win away today at Chicago. Up late, and they turned the ball over in the red zone. Then the defense made a run to the hot dog stand and watched from there as Jay Cutler took his team the distance to score a touchdown. Who didn’t know that would happen? Exactly. Some things just never change.
On a good note, every team in the AFC North lost their opener as well. But don’t worry…the Bengals are good at erasing any optimism.
The recent call up of speedster Billy Hamilton has the Reds outrunning their opponents lately. Hamilton has yet to step into the batters box or onto the field for defense yet he’s impacting games with his speed and base stealing ability. He has logged a theft in each of his first four pinch run opportunities.
With Hamilton’s help, the Reds took three of four games from the St. Louis Cardinals and the first two of three from the Dodgers. They will wrap up the three game series with L.A. tomorrow. It’s hard to remember a September call up that had such an immediate impact on the outcome of games.
The jury is still out on Hamilton’s ability to hit in the Big Leagues but no one can question his speed!