Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence:
“I thought we’d never come back from that one.” – Daily Prompt
The above is the Daily Prompt challenge. I am going to change the sentence just a bit to I thought they’d never come back from that.
Yesterday was the final day of the regular season for the NFL. Teams not going to the playoffs played their last game. Teams going to the playoffs already rested some of their regular players. Adrian Peterson ended up 9 yards short of breaking the all time rushing record after tearing his new up last season. And in fantasy football I could not decide who to play between two players, ended up losing my fantasy championship game by a small amount. Had I played the other player I would of won.
My favorite team the Bengals were one of the teams who had the playoffs locked up. They rested the key players the second half of the game to protect from injury. They still ended up winning. They are moving in the right direction with their team. First time since 1982 they had achieved back to back playoff seasons. First time since 1976 they had achieved back to back winning seasons in a non-strike shortened season.
The season started off with me doubting if they were going to be good enough to accomplish similar to what they did last season. I thought they had gotten lucky last season with a pretty soft schedule and lost every time they played a good team. Then they went out in their first game to lose 44-13 to the Baltimore Ravens. Seemed all the confirmation I needed to believe that I was right and this was going to be a long season.
Then they won the next three games to move to 3-1. Still not impressive considering the teams the wins came against. But it was at least a move in the right direction. Beating the teams you are expected to beat is part of what a good team does. They were in the soft part of their schedule. The tough part was yet to come.
Then they went on to lose their next 4 games. 2 of those games against teams good teams should beat easily in the Dolphins and the Browns. They played well in the 4th straight loss against the Broncos but still did not pull out the win. After that game they ended up 3-5 and any thoughts of playoffs seemed to be long gone since they had the tough part of their schedule ahead of them. I thought they’d never come back from that.
Their next game was against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. They won the game easily 35-7. Impressive. But this is the NFL and any team can beat any team on any given Sunday. But they went on to win their next 3 games as well to make it to 7-5. All the sudden they were in the playoff hunt again.
Then they went out and lost to the Dallas Cowboys at home in a game they should have won. Not only do I dislike the Cowboys but my brother is also a Cowboys fan. Of all the games to lose. I thought it was the start to the end of their season. However they came back the next week and won to move to 8-6. Their destiny was in their own hands. Win and they were in.
The only problem with that is they had two tough games left. At Pittsburgh and then home against the Ravens, the same Ravens they started off the season with a 44-13 loss. They Bengals had been 0-6 against those two teams the last six times they had played. Quarterback Andy Dalton in his second season had never beaten either team. Seemed to me like a long shot to get in. I fully expected them to finish the season 8-8.
Yet they went into Pittsburgh and played a tough game. It was close all game long. I kept waiting for the huge mistake on defense to give up the game winning TD. Or the bad pass or fumble on offense to set up the game winning field goal. Yet it never happened. The Bengals won on a last second field goal after THEIR defense made a turnover happen to put the offense in position to win. That game sealed their playoff fate and the Ravens had their fate sealed as well when they won. So the last game meant little. The Ravens played backups most the game, the Bengals played backups most the second half. But they were in!
One thing that gives me hope is the defense the Bengals are playing. It is amazing. A bunch of young players rushing the quarterback. The defense set team record for number of sacks in team history in a season. They lead the NFL in sacks for the season. They have a bunch of veterans in the secondary who are doing well, if they can avoid injury. Defense wins championships is the age old adage. But yet am I still questioning if they belong in the playoffs? Yes. Mostly because their offense is struggling so. They have no running game. They have 1 wide receiver who is good. The rest are young and inexperienced and don’t seem to have Dalton’s trust. Other teams in the playoffs will have good defenses too. But then again if you had asked me when they were 3-5 if I would of thought would of been considering this the day after the season I would of said no way.
Time for the playoffs to start and we can see what will play out. Go Bengals! WHO-DEY!