There’s a fine line between being full of yourself and being overly full of yourself. That’s where the Bengals are now. Reading some of the postgame reaction Sunday and on into Monday would have you thinking the Men are on the Big Bowl Trail. Um, well. . .
The Bengals had a nice W in Pittsburgh. Significant? We’ll see.
“It’s not a surprise that we can go in there and win,’’ tackle Jonah Williams decided. “This is our standard.’’
Their standard? Entering the season, the standard sat at 6-25-1.
It’s one thing to be happy after the best win in the Zac Taylor, um, Era. It’s another to be proclaiming the Bengals success bar has been raised. That was presumptuous. This was worse:
“They gave up. You could see it’’ was Tyler Boyd’s assessment of the Steelers. “They had three drops in a row. For a team to see that is giving us more power, giving us the antidote to know how good we are. So for a team to just lay down like that before the game was over - because no matter what, no matter how much we're losing by or whatever the case may be, I know me and I know us. We're not giving up.’’
So, after one game, the Bengals are showing us “how good’’ they are, while also proclaiming the Steelers heartless chumps who “lay down.’’
It’s good the scrappy local 11 has a home game Thursday night against Jacksonville, arguably the worst team in the league. Because this has classic letdown written all over it. The Bengals can get away with just playing decently against Urban Meyer and his green kid QB, Trevor Lawrence. What if they were playing the Ravens or Browns?
Here’s the truth about the win in Pittsburgh:
Ben Roethlisberger, the offensive line and the injuries were all as bad as we’ve seen them in the Ben Era. Pittsburgh was missing two starting linebackers, including that Watt guy, who’s pretty good, and two D-linemen, including Stephon Tuitt, well-known 2015 Andy Dalton wrecker. Not to mention their best receiver, Diontae Johnson. Talking about how good you are after you’ve beaten two mediocrities (and lost to another) is not the mindset you want your young roster to possess.
Good on the Bengals for starting 2-1 and likely 3-1 by midnight Thursday. But the best way to lose a grip on your early success is to begin bragging on it. And you can be sure the Steelers will come to the next war with the Bengals thankful for the psychological edge Tyler Boyd provided them.
As Marvin Lewis said frequently, “I see better than I hear.’’ Modesty and focus should be the standard.
Now, then. . .
FIVE WINNING SEASONS IN TWO DECADES defines the Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates have the same record of achievement since 2001. And while it’s nice the Reds are finishing sort-of strong, the context of that strength can’t be overstated. Since they reached their high water mark at 69-57, the Reds are 13-18. Nineteen of their previous 31 games have been against teams with losing records. Their record in those games? 9-10.
They’ve played two last-place teams, Pittsburgh and Washington, who currently are a combined 67 games under .500. They’ve needed to win their last four in a row to get their September record against those two dreary clubs to 6-4. It’s worth noting that the Reds current 4-game W streak has come after they’ve been all but eliminated from playoff consideration.
All credit due the Cardinals. But five weeks ago, it was the Reds who controlled their destiny . And fumbled it. They haven’t won a postseason series since 1995.
THE GAME AT ND SATURDAY is arguably the biggest regular season tilt in UC football history. I’d opt for the win at Pitt several years back. I’m sure Tony Pike would agree.
But when it comes to national perceptions, the W at Pitt is no better than 2nd-place to the one kicking off Saturday at 2:30. Beating a very good Irish team in South Bend? Nothing compares, not even the near-miss v. Georgia in last year’s Peach Bowl.
UC’s shaky start at Indiana does make me wonder if the South Bend stage might force a start similar to what occurred in Bloomington. Regardless, UC has never had a better chance to shine nationally than the chance it has on Saturday. Perceptions are everything to center-stage wannabes who don’t inhabit the Power Five. Perception is reality and reality is huge when you’re wooing blue-chip high school kids. UC’s route to the big leagues passes through South Bend.
CALLING ALL DOMERS. . . I’m going to the game this Saturday. I don’t have a hotel room. Anyone give me any shot finding one anywhere north of Indy? Where might that be?
Also, any back roads to South Bend that won’t be clogged on Saturday morning?
ALSO. . . If Washington can’t have its Redskins, why should Notre Dame have its Fighting Irish?
As a dyed-in the-Guinness Irishman, I really resent that nickname. Perpetuates a stereotype. Assumes we wee Irishmen do nothing but fight. And the mascot, ugh. He makes Chief Wahoo seem like royalty. We’re not all Little People, you know. Some of us don’t even like the color green.
I demand that Notre Dame change its nickname immediately. Might I suggest. . . Nurturing Hibernians?
That would restore some of my dignity and bolster my self esteem.
BECAUSE TV IS MY LIFE. . . While I’m waiting for the return of Succession fabulousness, Hacks is keeping my interest. Jean Smart is wonderful.
Nine Perfect Strangers started far better than it finished.
Matt Amodio’s robotic excellence is doing Jeopardy! no favors. He’s no James Holzhauer (who is?) but could he at least make Final Jeopardy! competitive every so often?
And Peyton and Eli are showing us what the future of MNF should look like, if only because they’re so much more interesting than the guys in the booth. I don’t even know who the guys are in the booth. Do you?
The era of the big-time play-by-play men was over a long time ago. Strange that ESPN took so long to make that discovery. If I never see another Booger in the booth, it’ll be too soon.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD. You’d have been 89 today. I was grateful you got to 86. Hope you’re enjoying gin and tonics and your beloved Washington Football Team up there.
TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . One of many Steve Forbert favorites.