Cincinnati Bengals Week 5: “Earning Their Stripes”
Oct 5, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass against the New England Patriots during the second half quarter at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Bengals 43-17. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Oh boy, after the Bengals were dismantled at the hands of the New England Patriots Sunday night in Foxboro, MA, it is difficult to think of anyone “Earning their Stripes.” Yes, it’s one loss, but we all know the road to the Super Bowl goes through teams like New England, and likely on their home turf. With that said, there are two points of emphasis in this week’s edition of “Earning Their Stripes.”
First off is Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Now Dalton didn’t get off to the hottest start, in fact he missed a streaking Giovani Bernard along the sideline for what, at minimum, could’ve been a huge gain and a possible touchdown. Here come the critics, saying Dalton cannot handle the prime time lights. Same old Andy Dalton, same result as always. But then something happened. Something unexpected happened. Dalton calmed down and threw a nice touch pass to Mohamed Sanu, and ended the night 15/24 for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Dalton didn’t turn the ball over and his combined 100.3 passer rating through four games is fifth best in the NFL.
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Dalton’s stats will frankly get lost in this lopsided loss to the Patriots. Also, once the Patriots nabbed a big lead, they backed off pressuring Andy Dalton as much, which could have led to some of his prime time success. However, it is not to be understated that during a prime time game, under the lights, Andy Dalton played pretty well.
Beyond all of that, the real group that “Earned their Stripes” were the New England Patriots organization. Not the team on the field, but the entire Patriots family, from Robert Kraft the owner on down to the cheerleaders. At about the six minute-mark in the third quarter, something special happened. The Patriots took a few moments to show the story of Leah Still, daughter of Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still. Also, the cameras panned to the cheerleaders and they were all wearing #75 Devon Still jerseys, which we all know by now those funds went to charity.
The Patriots didn’t have to do this. They are a brand deeply rooted in football tradition and maybe the last great dynasty of the modern era. Did they do this for publicity on a national stage? Sure, one could argue that, but there is no need. The Patriots went above and beyond anything they would have had to do to make a publicity statement. The Patriots organization seemed to be truly and deeply moved by what the Bengals have done with Devon Still and felt the only way to show their appreciation was to honor Leah, who just had her tumor removed last week and is still waiting to undergo more chemotherapy. Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft also donated $25,000 to pediatric cancer research in honor of Leah Still (our pick for which Bengals “Earned Their Stripes” last week). Kudos to you New England Patriots, you are a classy organization and are this week’s group who “Earned their Stripes.”
Check Stripe Hype weekly to see which Bengals “Earned Their Stripes” for the week’s performance.