We know, from the Bengals Wildcard game, this team has passion, but what got them in trouble in the Wildcard game could be their biggest weapon, if controlled.
In the last ninety seconds we saw a game that was all but won slip out of the Bengals hands through a passion for the game. Vontaze Burfict over played the receiver, and although not intentional, made contact with Antonio Brown’s head, causing a 15 yard penalty.
However, it was what happened next and during that entire game that made the Bengals season what it was. Passion for not only the game, but also for the desire to win. Domata Peko, during one of the early skirmishes, ran onto the field with his coat on and pushed a Steelers player near the sideline. Lets also not forget the shouting match between Joey Porter and Adam Jones, that led to a 15 yard penalty and set up the game winning field goal.
We can debate whether Porter should have received a penalty as well, but every Bengals fan would agree it should, but didn’t. It was Adam Jones’ passion for the game and to win that got him in trouble. We don’t want to see any of that passion disappear, however, it needs to be redirected to his play on the field in 2016.
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Vontaze Burfict is the same way. In his interviews, Burfict talks about needing to get back to the good side of the grey line he stepped across. He needs to find a way to control his body and lower his point of contact. He needs to continue his passionate play and limit his hits to the head, which is possible, James Harrison is the perfect example.
This defense is the most talented in the NFL, and very few can argue. However, they need to take any passion that could be directed in a negative way, and refocus to what they do best, attack the quarterback, and continue to make plays on the field and leave the drama behind, especially in week two.
The Bengals have a chance to make their sixth straight playoff appearance. If they find a way to get their, this team has the best chance to break their playoff win drought. This could be the best opportunity for them to return to the Super Bowl, but they must take care of business in the regular season first.