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Old 11-15-2006, 04:59 AM   #1
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Default Bengals a huge disappointment

By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Chad Johnson hasn't even bothered to check his "Who Covered No. 85" list for the last three weeks. What's the point? The receiver's checklist has become irrelevant, just like his team.

Any list of the NFL's most disappointing teams has to start with the Cincinnati Bengals, a vogue pick for a Super Bowl run after their 3-0 start. Since then, they've lost five of six and morphed into a souped-up version of the old Bungles.

They squabble. They fuss. They lose.

And, like in the old days, there's plenty of blame to go around.

"I've underachieved as a football coach," Marvin Lewis said, a day after his defense gave up a mind-boggling 42 points in the second half of a 49-41 loss to San Diego.

OK. Let the accounting start with the head coach.

In his first three seasons in Cincinnati, Lewis had the magic touch. He persuaded a set-in-its-ways front office to modernize, cleansed the locker room of its negativity, and won back fans turned off by a decade of losing.

His popularity reached a peak after the Bengals won the AFC North last season and made their first playoff appearance in 15 years. He became the first NFL head coach with a replica jersey - it costs $75, the same as a Johnson or Carson Palmer jersey, and features "M. Lewis" on the back with an "03" for his first season in Cincinnati.
Given the way things are going, there won't be an "06" model.

Lewis' biggest shortcoming has been his handling of misconduct. By steadfastly defending players during their array of arrests, the head coach sent the message that their off-field problems were nothing more than an annoyance.

Six Bengals have been arrested this year, with two of them - linebacker Odell Thurman and receiver Chris Henry - drawing suspensions from the league. The night after a win in Pittsburgh left the Bengals 3-0, Thurman was arrested for drunken driving. Henry was a passenger in the vehicle.

That was the tipping point for Lewis.

He took away Thurman's locker even before the league suspended him for the rest of the season. He also benched Henry for one game before the league weighed in with its own two-game penalty.

Since Lewis finally drew a line, no one else has been arrested. A lot of damage already had been done.

Henry's absence hurt an offense that was still trying to get on track, and Thurman's banishment cost the Bengals a playmaker on defense - the defense that gave up those 42 points in the second half.

Ultimately, character counts.

So does the mind-set. Teams that contend every year - New England is the prime example - figure out ways to overcome the player losses and other setbacks that are the norm in a parity-driven league.

These Bengals (4-5) don't have that attitude. Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson was on the mark with his criticism last month that the his team isn't tough enough.

"It all comes back to the mental part of it," Anderson said. "At some point, you've got to draw the line and say, 'Dang it, it stops here.' Teams draw the line all the time."

This one goes in circles. Instead of making a stand, it makes a scene - running back Rudi Johnson second-guesses the play calling, safety Dexter Jackson questions the team's effort, receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh loses his cool and slams his helmet after a questionable call.

Then there's Chad Johnson, whose cover-boy Mohawk is an appropriate symbol of the '06 Bengals.

The Pro Bowl receiver took self-promotion to a new level in the preseason. He grew the Mohawk, found a corporate sponsor for his list of opponents that couldn't cover him, and even unveiled a new Chad Johnson headpiece.

As for the unending trash talk:

"Anyone else that feels we're not going to dominate the AFC North this year, something's wrong," he insisted last May. "Look at the numbers. Look at the players. Look at me. What else could I say?"

These days, not much.


Those dreams of domination sound rather silly now. Johnson had to shave off his golden Mohawk when he lost a bet and the Bengals lost a game. He groused about the lack of passes thrown his way, then briefly stopped talking altogether.

Even the most productive game of his career turned into another empty moment. He caught 11 passes for a club-record 260 yards against San Diego on Sunday, and mimicked Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman's "Lights Out" celebration after his second touchdown.

Then the Chargers came back and dimmed the lights on the Bengals' playoff hopes.

"We could have started pointing fingers and fussing at each other - which a lot of teams do in this league," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said afterward.

He didn't single out the Bengals.

Didn't have to.
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Old 11-15-2006, 05:29 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bengals a huge disappointment

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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 11-15-2006, 07:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Bengals a huge disappointment

3. Bengals' unfaithful

You have to give Cincinnati fans credit for hanging in there and enduring years of losing. The excitement began to build last year and expectations rose this season to its highest level in 20 years. And while I understand the frustration fans might feel with the team now being 4-5 and losing three straight at home, how could you have possibly filed out of the stadium with Cincy only down eight points in the closing minutes? With the offense the Bengals have, there's no reason to leave the stadium at that point.


http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_yl...yhoo&type=lgns
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Old 11-15-2006, 07:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: Bengals a huge disappointment

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Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
3. Bengals' unfaithful

You have to give Cincinnati fans credit for hanging in there and enduring years of losing. The excitement began to build last year and expectations rose this season to its highest level in 20 years. And while I understand the frustration fans might feel with the team now being 4-5 and losing three straight at home, how could you have possibly filed out of the stadium with Cincy only down eight points in the closing minutes? With the offense the Bengals have, there's no reason to leave the stadium at that point.


http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_yl...yhoo&type=lgns
When you have only been a fan for two years...its very easy to walk away....they have nothing invested in the team.
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Old 11-15-2006, 08:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: Bengals a huge disappointment

The Benglas are a train wreck but any list of the most disappointing teams in the league has to start with the Steelers.

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Old 11-15-2006, 08:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Bengals a huge disappointment

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The Benglas are a train wreck but any list of the most disappointing teams in the league has to start with the Steelers.

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Hmmmmm....only in the fact that we SHOULD expect more from OUR team....Bengal fans should just feel like things are back to normal
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Old 11-15-2006, 09:16 AM   #7
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Default Re: Bengals a huge disappointment

That accurately sums up my point.

The Bengals reverting to their standard woeful performance level is not as disappointing as a team that has been in the playoffs 10 out of 14 years and coming off a Super Bowl and AFC Championship appearance the season before that coming apart completely.
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Old 11-15-2006, 11:55 AM   #8
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Default Re: Bengals a huge disappointment

Lotta crow to be eaten at both ends of the Ohio River. Pride goeth before the fall 'n all that. The difference is, I'll look you in the eye and eat my crow... and then wear my B&G and expect my team to go out and beat your team on Sunday even if we go into the game with a 3-12 record. Because it's what I do.


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Old 11-16-2006, 08:25 AM   #9
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Default Re: Bengals a huge disappointment

Bengals fans...there IS a 2 point conversion in the NFL.
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