Changing Their Stripes

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Whew.

These aren’t your grandfather’s Bengals. Or your father’s, your mother’s, your cousin Joe Bob’s or any other version I’ve ever seen. The Bengals not only avoided another late-game origami fold, but they won in overtime, once again making two clutch fourth-down conversions to secure the victory.

After the 23-20 overtime thriller, there’s plenty to be disgusted about:  an offense that is extremely inconsistent, play-calling that is about as diverse as the first version of Tecmo Bowl (run, run, pass, punt, repeat), a 14-0 lead that became way too close for comfort, and a number of unnecessary penalties. But in the end, I can only be encouraged by these Bengals.

To be good in the NFL, you have to win ugly. And yesterday’s performance was so ugly, it should have stayed in Cleveland and been given full citizenship (-RIMSHOT!). But in the end, the game counts the same as every other win by every other team in the NFL. Cincinnati won despite another wretched performance by Brad St. Loopsey-Daisy, that was partially responsible for two blocked kicks and  a total of four points. The Bengals won on the road in a divisional game without defensive starters Tank Johnson and Roy Williams (which I suspect was partially responsible for a solid rushing day by the Brownies). And they won for the third straight game to move into a tie for first-place – that’s right, FIRST FREAKIN’ PLACE – in the division.

Hopefully, that mojo-momentum continues and even pay dividends in close games later this year. Yes, yesterday was ugly. Very ugly. But in the end, it was a WIN. And after only four of them last year, I’ll take every one we can get.

So take your heart pills and hit the treadmill when you can, because these Bengals seem to thrive in those pulse-pounding moments where they’ve always failed in the past. And something tells me we’re going to see a lot of them before the season ends.

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