Apologies that this wasn’t up earlier but every time I went to hand it in, Marvin Lewis threw a red flag and I had to rewrite it. I’m joking, of course. If Marvin had actually thrown a challenge flag, I wouldn’t have had to change anything at all.
There are certain little secrets all men universally carry; still thinking that Fresh Prince Of Bel Air was a really, really good show; enjoying singing full blast to Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way when you think nobody is listening; watching any Jason Statham movie and saying to ourselves—“With a little training, I could do that.”
In amongst those would be this—we didn’t really actually expect to beat the Texans on Play Off Saturday. Not really. Because this is the Bengals. So when Texans running back Arian Foster plowed through the unfortunate Chris Crocker the way offensive lineman Andre Smith treats a side salad at the start of an all-you-can-eat buffet to make the score 31-10 in the fourth quarter, we were disappointed. Saddened, perhaps. But not surprised.
There were two moments that changed the game, that turned this play off game against the Bengals. It was something of a relief that neither involved Shayne Graham shanking a 12-yard field goal. Captain America J.J. Watts’s freakish interception just before the half plucked the Bengals slickly from the driving seat and dumped Houston into their spot. Then, with the Texans threatening to tighten their grip on the game strong safety Chris Crocker dropped the simplest of interceptions. What could have been 17-17 was soon 24-10 and—who else?—Johnathon Joseph started playing havoc with Andy Dalton’s deep throws to A.J. Green.
An odd week then. On Sunday Paul Brown Stadium was disappointed entering the playoffs, on Saturday Bengaldom was equanimous whilst exiting them. Justifiably so. The youngest team in the AFC, the team that lost its five most famous players, the team that was supposed to go 0-16, the team of rookies and nobodies…making the play offs was so far beyond expectation that even in defeat thoughts turn to the future: to two first round picks next year, two second rounders the year after, to two rookies who—one epic Cam Newton media-fest apart—would have independently won Rookie Of The Year most seasons, to an agile and balanced defensive line, to the return of Leon Hall and Jordan Shipley, to more Jerome Simpson gymnastics (and ideally fewer arrests) and to two of the hottest commodities in the NFL as co-ordinators (Jacksonville permitting)…
And so I would ask all Bengal fans to be uplifted, to look to that bright future, to acknowledge new beginnings and to say one big, huge, genuine thank you to Tim Tebow! WHODEY!
Final Score (of the season): Bengals 10, Texans 31