For the Broncos, who had Tim Tebow lining up as a receiver for most of the game, the victory was somewhat Pyrrhic. For the Bengals it was…well…moral? Certainly a heartbreaking loss to Denver was no impediment to a strong season two years ago (In fact, what proved to be the winning TD looked eerily similar). And sitting at 1-1 was exactly where we were both that year of AFC North Championshipness and also this last year of “I’d rather sit on the couch watching Deal Or No Deal whilst eating Cheez-Its on Sundays than receive tens of millions of dollars to play for you ever again.” So nothing to be read into that.
Denver are a trickier proposition than they might seem; yes their QB situation is a little problematic (but hey, they’re talking to the experts here) but inevitably the cuckholded (cuckheld?) Kyle Orton was going to be busting a gut to save his relationship with the Bronco fans who had achieved the admirable feat of having the wholesome, pious, sweet Tim Tebow referred to as “the sexy choice” by commentators.
Certainly, things began badly: Our defense always seems to take a little while to warm up and frankly were getting gouged pretty brutally on a superb Bronco touchdown drive to open the game. Worryingly, Rey Maualuga, who I am pretty certain could bench press Paul Brown Stadium, seemed to end up going backwards on every contact. That said, the defense was keeping us in the game as third-and-1 after third-and-1 was left uncoverted. Incidentally, I watched the episode of Seinfeld recently where George becomes Latvian Orthodox for a girl: racked my brains to make a good “converting/conversion” joke, and NOTHING. Please feel free to help.
Our running game was sputtering, killing my fantasy team in the process, and my sense of paranoia regarding the media and Bengals was heightened as, surreally out of context, the analysts would colour their commentary with “Cedric Benson there…just got out of a Texas jail.” Do other teams face this? Do Steelers fans have to listen to “Ben Roethlisberger, who of course was twice accused of rape these past 18 months, with the incompletion” week in and out? No. I don’t think so, anyway.
The only points we were able to muster were thanks to turnovers, Reggie Nelson forcing a fumble that Leon Hall recovered, and after the fastest first half in the history of the world, the Bengals found themselves down 3-17 in the third quarter. For those of us for whom last week’s win meant a certain 16-0 season, this was a little crushing, especially as the Bengals are perennially useless in the third quarter. So the Bengals did what any smart team would do and let a rookie QB in a famously loud stadium run a no huddle. Wait, what!? It turns out that in the divorce, the Bengals may have lost their biggest TV draws but they’ve gained some testosterone. The ginger dragon was thoroughly roused, hitting Andre “Clutch” Caldwell for a touchdown, the battling Simpson for a huge gain under pressure, then AJ Green for another touchdown, much to the outrage of one analyst who will still be questioning it next week.
Sure, we know how this ends. It is the Bengals after all, and we expect a little heartbreak. But these guys have some chutzpah. Carson’s Cardiac Cats may now be the Cardiac Kids, but they play with guts and gusto. Dalton was positively salivating at the chance to lead the final drive. The defense plays hard and tough. Let’s cross our fingers that Jordan “would have been perfect for us on that final drive” Shipley isn’t too badly hurt. And let’s remember that there are experts out there who had us going 0-16. Splitting two opening road games with a rookie QB? I’m OK with that. The good new for the Bengals? I bet Jay Gruden and Andy Dalton won’t be.
Final score: Bengals 22, Broncos 24