I had all sorts of clever stuff lined up for this week’s review, drawing parallels between the flow of retirees from Ohio to Florida with the exodus of Bengals free agents this past summer to Tampa: just because Marvin Lewis blew that out of the water (no pirate ship pun intended) I still think it proper to let you know, dear readers, that it would have been excellent, incisive, and very funny.
But who has time for that nonsense when Marvin Lewis—a good man undoubtedly, a conservative and puzzling football coach to be sure—in his own words, lost his mind. Actually, he lost his mind twice, first going for an utterly inexplicable and wildly unsuccessful onside kick after the Bengals had finally taken the lead that almost managed to hand it right back to the Bucs. This onside kick would have seemed peculiar coming from a team that likes to take risks; coming from Marvin , it was like unsuccessfully trying to convince your quiet friend to loosen up a little, only to have them slam half a dozen tequilas and end up threatening strangers into forming a gap on the bar so that they can dance hideously to “Livin’ On A Prayer” as “this is SO. MY. SONG. The unions they won’t strike.”
Anyway, thereafter the game seemed like the final moments of an English dinner party with everyone steadily refusing to take the last chocolate for fear of seeming gauche: every time either team advanced they’d commit a penalty, if there was a big play there’d be a turnover, and so on as each side desperately tried to hand each other the win. In the dying moments, Marvin Lewis seemed destined to be the winner of the race to be the loser, throwing an illegal challenge flag as the Bucs moved within winning field goal range. Oh, Marvin. But rather than dunder-headed foolishness, the Bengals head coach’s move exhibited the sort of brilliantly impulsive genius that visits all of us oh too infrequently, like when I had that idea for aesthetically pleasing air conditioning units.
Tampa, it seems, had 12 men on the field on the last crucial play, and Lewis’s quick-thinking lead to a review, which hauled the Bucs out of field goal range, never to return. It has to be said, I’ve made fun of the Bengals before for having 12 men on the field, but for the officials to not notice is particularly egregious. There are literally four grown adult humans whose job is to successfully count to eleven and all of them failed. Twice! That’s almost impossible.
Anyway, I also planned to make fun of Andy Dalton who, after his 19th interception of the first half, sat on the sideline the very picture of loneliness, like a kid in high school whose friends all secretly planned to get lunch without him and now he doesn’t know where to sit because if he sits with a different group, it’ll just highlight that his friends ditched him and makes it a thing, and maybe if he just sits on his own people either won’t notice or will think he’s having important thoughts and just chose to have them alone and, gosh, how long can a guy pretend to be listening to a voicemail before people realize he’s faking anyway? Oh, but then it turned out Andy had Black Death and vomited literally more than twenty times in the locker room just before the game, so it was probably fair enough that everyone was avoiding him.
Other than that, not too much to say: so poor was the game that Adam Jones even made a fair catch, his first ever as a Bengal and, frankly, if the most exciting moment of a game is a coach throwing a flag, it tells you everything you need to know. It was a beautifully thrown flag though, and thanks to all the other AFC North teams collapsing, the Bengals edged a little further ahead in the crawl towards the playoffs.
Final Score: Bengals 14, Buccaneers 13
Man Of The Match: Come on. Carlos Dunlap was probably our best player, and it was nice for AJ to make up for a bizarre and entirely invisible offensive pass interference call with a muscular touchdown, but this bad boy belongs to Marvin Lewis. No arguments will be brooked.