The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. —Ted, from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, quoting Socrates.
The Cincinnati Bengals lived a redemption story Sunday, twisting their plot from euphoric to downtrodden to resurrected before the late-afternoon games even kicked off. A season’s worth of rising and falling seemingly took place in only four quarters, a lifetime’s worth of triumphs and failures crammed into a Week 3 victory. I’m not sure what it means for the team or season or franchise as a whole, but my guess would be not much more than any Week 3 victory. What I do know is that Sunday’s Bengals-Packers tilt was just about the most ridiculous display of football I’ve ever witnessed start to finish, and somehow the Bengals crawled out of the hole alive. Stranger things have happened, but not many.
Up 14, down 16, up 4…ballgame. Bengals 34, Packers 30, reality skewered.
It was bodacious, dude.
Eight total, four for each team. The Packers muff an early kickoff that gave the Bengals a 14-0 lead. Then the Bengals somehow managed to cough up the ball four times in a nine-play span. Aaron Rodgers was then haunted by the ghost of Carson Palmer, firing missiles to the Bengals secondary, before Packers rookie running back Johnathan Franklin got drilled by Michael Johnson, sparking a circus fumble-return-for-a-TD by Terrence Newman. These are professional football teams, by the way.
2. Ref Show
Player safety is an important issue. Protecting players from vicious, damaging hits is a move in the right direction by a league that hasn’t shown much interest in the welfare of its athletes. Concussions and their long-term impact is the most prominent concern facing the country’s most popular sport. But the array of personal foul penalties called against both teams on Sunday was pretty pathetic. Vontaze Burfict (who, admittedly, is a maniacal moron) and Reggie Nelson were both flagged for the Bengals, Nelson drawing his for putting his body too close to Aaron Rodgers’ body. Someone from the league offices was clearly concerned, imploring the game officials to even things out, resulting in two personal foul penalties against the Packers defense for trying to tackle the offensive player with the ball. Burfict then flopped his way to another penalty on the Packers, which we’ll revisit later. Yes, referees, make the game safer. Don’t make it a joke.
3. Leon Hall
Probably the team’s most underrated player, Leon locked down his man all day (often Randall Cobb), made a few nice open field tackles/hits, and had a clutch interception on a perfectly played ball down the sideline. He even made a half-hearted block on the Newman fumble return to keep his teammate in the clear.
4. Marvin’s Challenge Flag
Challenging the spot of a Randall Cobb reception changed a first down to fourth and inches. The Packers went for it, Franklin fumbled, and some 60-yards later, Newman was hoisting himself into the first row of fans behind the endzone as the Bengals took the lead on the scoreboard. Coach Lewis, meanwhile, is slowly shedding this image of challenge futility. I can just picture Marvin spending all summer in his backyard, pacing back and forth along an imaginary sideline, a red dishtowel clutched in his hand. He counts down—3…2…1—before tossing the red towel a few feet in front of him, calm-cool-and-collected on the outside, trying to retain control of his bowels on the inside. The imaginary ref checks under the imaginary replay hood, and Marvin wins the challenge—he always wins in the backyard—as the home crowd goes wild, cheering and shouting apologies for ever doubting his abilities. Marvin picks up the red towel, remaining stone-faced, while his stomach flutters with excitement and pride. Then his wife hollers out the back window to let him know dinner is ready. She made enchiladas. Marvin friggin’ loves her enchiladas. He hopes she made queso dip, too.
5. The ends
I absolutely love Ben Bergin’s analogy of Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson as the Bengals version of the Bash Brothers from D2: The Mighty Ducks. My only regret is that I didn’t think of it first. Also, Dunlap is definitely Dean Portman.
Honorable Mention: The New ‘Nard Dawg, Terrence Newman, Taylor Mays recovering a fumble and not doing something stupid instead, the ref that started his penalty explanation by saying ‘Alright, here’s the situation.’
Because it’s been a few weeks, and we were all getting worried he had lost his touch: Pacman Jones, cited for disorderly conduct.
A Week in the Life of Jeromy Miles, Part-Time NFL Safety
Sunday: Professional football player for the Cincinnati Bengals
Monday: Waived by the Cincinnati Bengals
Tuesday: NFL free agent
Wednesday: After clearing waivers, resigned by the Cincinnati Bengals
Thursday-Friday: Professional football player for the Cincinnati Bengals
Saturday: Waived by the Cincinnati Bengals
Vontaze Burfict: sixth-grade boy in an NFL linebacker’s body.