By Conrad Clowers
Cincinnati Herald Contributor
Things were looking so great for the 2018 Bengals on Oct. 7. The team had just defeated the Miami Dolphins, boosting the record to 4-1. A 3-year absence in the playoffs was well on its way to ending. On Oct. 14,
Cincinnati had the first of their twice-a-year annual battle with the Pittsburg Steelers. They take the lead 21-20 leaving the Steelers 1:18 to play in the game. With any of a number of teams, the Bengals move to 5-1. There were only two problems. One, the Steelers aren’t ‘any of a number of teams,’ and, two, they have a hall of famer in waiting quarterback. Pittsburg goes right down the field to score a touchdown. The game ends in an as per usual Steeler/Bengal fashion. Pittsburg, 28, Cincinnati, 21. The final Antonio Brown touchdown was the turning point of the Bengals 2018 season.
Since the Oct. 14 loss to the Pittsburg Steelers, it has not just been downhill from there. It has been a straight drop. The team has won one of its last four games. In two of the four losses, they have either set, or nearly set, club and NFL records for biggest margin of defeat, yards given up on defense, and probably biggest morale change. The lone win in that span came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home. Cincinnati had to go on a game winning drive to hold on to win the game in which they had a comfortable lead.
The season has not only gone downhill in wins/losses. Key players such as wide receiver A.J Green, cornerback Darquez Dennard, linebacker Vontaze Burfict, and linebacker Nick Vigil have been out all or some of the span due to injury. Defensively, head coach Marvin Lewis had to silently admit he made a mistake with a hire. New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin didn’t even make it one full season. Austin was fired.
Despite the change, the results have been the same as the losses continue to pile up. The latest loss is an avenge loss against the Baltimore Ravens. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore a little over two months early in a 34-23 contest in Cincinnati. Baltimore returned the favor in a closely played 24-21 battle Sunday. The Bengal loss puts Cincinnati with a 5-5 record on the season.
Despite the rapidly sinking ship, the Bengals are still in a position to save the season and make the playoffs. Of the five teams in six games remaining, only two of the teams currently have winning records. That figure is just odds, but ultimately means nothing in the NFL Any team can win on any given Sunday.
Speaking of winning if the Bengals don’t start doing some of that they will do what they’ve done the past two seasons. Watch the playoffs on television.