Bengals season comes to an end
I have been a loyal Cincinnati Bengals and Reds fan for my entire life. Like many of you, I have been through the first round exits with Dalton, the 2-0 blown lead vs. the San Francisco Giants, the Jeremy Hill fumble, the Super Bowl loss, and many other painful memories of Cincinnati sports. This one hurts more than any of them, including the Super Bowl loss last season, as I truly felt Cincinnati was the best team in football. Cincinnati fans know pain around sports and know how losing in the worst ways possible feels. While it is normal to feel negative about the outcome of the AFC Championship game, this season was truly one to remember. I had more fun during the 2022-2023 Bengals season than I have in any other season in my life. Enjoying the BetFred Suite and garage gatherings with my spouse and friends, watching new players make a name for themselves, and the epic win streak are memories that will last a lifetime. Before diving into the game details, I have to say that I have all the trust in the World that Joe Burrow and the Bengals organization as a whole will bring a Lombardi Trophy back to the Queen city. What a ride and what a season!
What just happened?
Cincinnati fell just short to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship and managed to lose by 3 and miss out on their opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. This game didn’t feel right from the beginning, but Cincinnati had the opportunity at the end of the game to complete a winning drive, but it just didn’t work out in Cincinnati’s favor. Let’s see what went wrong:
Slow start – Cincinnati couldn’t put up points in the first quarter and only had two field goals to show in the first half. This slow start was the exact opposite of what they were used to during the majority of this win streak.
Offensive line woes – The offensive line was atrocious in this one. Five sacks and some brutal hits to Burrow led to an inefficient offense. The run game was non-existent due to this and it resulted in 71 total rushing yards for the entire game.
2 Minute drill fail – With a hair over 2 minutes left in the game, Cincinnati had the ball in a tie game with a chance to punch their ticket. We can blame multiple calls and players all we want, but Cincinnati had a chance to put a nail in the coffin and didn’t.
Officials – Of course I am biased about my opinion with the Bengals, but I believe the whole world saw the officiating issues in this one. The missed roughing the passer call, the multiple missed holds on Trey Hendrickson, the missed call on the block in the back on the punt return, the do-over on third down, intentional grounding, and many more were all in the favor of the Chiefs. Cincinnati had 9 penalties compared to the Chiefs 4. I sat in disbelief for the last 7 minutes or so of this game.
Pressure – Cincinnati failed to pressure Mahomes for the entire game. 1 sack is all Cincinnati managed to come away with and Mahomes had all day in the pocket for the majority of the game.
Ossai Penalty – Don’t get me wrong, I like Joseph Ossai and believe he played a solid game. The typical “that play didn’t lose them the game” saying came to mind, and I read it all over my newsfeeds on social media. In reality though, one play changes the outcome of a game in football and Ossai’s mistake gave the Chiefs just enough yards to drill the game winning field goal. Yes, I feel bad for Ossai, but this play will go down with the Jeremy Hill fumble in Cincinnati history.
Do you remember that scene from Talladega Nights where Ricky Bobby didn’t know what to do with his hands? Well, that is how I feel right now, as I am not sure what to do. I have already marked March 30th off on my work calendar, as Reds Opening Day is right around the corner, but you can only be so optimistic. Sure, the Reds won’t be a contender, but watching these young players develop will be huge for the future of this team I suppose. I can’t even think about off-season moves yet for the Bengals, so for now, I will try to figure out what to do with my hands and plan for another exciting year of baseball.
Jimmy Burrow joins Matt’s Take
Jimmy Burrow (Joe’s father) was kind enough to join me for a second interview entering the AFC Championship game. The father of the most talented football player in the world taking time out of his day to talk football with me has been a blessing throughout this season. While the season didn’t end the way we all had hoped, this was one of my favorite interviews of the year.
Q: How does it feel to see your son playing in the AFC Championship for the second year in a row?
A: “We are very proud of Joe and the team. It’s hard to get back to this game. We are very excited for Sundays game.”
Q: What do you believe this team needs to do in order to bring home the Lombardi trophy?
A: “Got to beat KC before we think about that trophy. Continue to play great defense and create turnovers. Protect the ball on offense and establish the running game. Play like we did versus Buffalo.”
Q: What is the biggest improvement you’ve seen out of Joe this season in comparison to last season?
A: “Willing to take what the defense is giving him. That’s probably the biggest thing. He understands the way people are defending them, you can’t always get the explosive passes downfield.”
Q: Do you plan to deliver another game ball in Athens if Cincinnati wins again on Sunday?
A: “I hope so. That was awesome when we did that.”
Q: Who gets more nervous or excited during a game, you or Robin?
A: “We both get nervous and excited. We thought after so many games that the nervousness would go away, but it doesn’t (Ha).”
Buck Farmer joins Matt’s Take
Cincinnati Reds pitcher, Buck Farmer, kindly joined Matt’s Take this week. George Runie Farmer, known as Buck to many, has been in the majors for roughly 9 years. He has been in the Reds organization since 2022. The electric right-handed reliever looks to make an immediate impact in the 2023 season for this young ball club and I am more than excited to see number 46 continue to improve in a Reds uniform.
Q: What pitch are you working on the most this off-season?
A: “The pitch I’d say I’m mostly working on this off season would be my fastball. Cleaning it up a little to add a little more carry/vert to it, as well as still consistently tuning the ability to land all my pitches in the zone. So overall, actually continuing to try and fine tune everything.”
Q: What have you enjoyed the most during your time in Cincinnati?
A: “I’d say the thing I’ve enjoyed most in Cincinnati would be the coaching team itself, as well as the ballpark. Everything and everyone makes coming to the field easier every day. Not sure I can speak to much on things off the field, since I haven’t had much of an opportunity to venture out.”
Q: How is working with Derek Johnson on a daily basis?
A: “Working with DJ is actually incredible. Actually makes me wonder if my career would have been any different if I would have been with him earlier on. His knowledge for the game and pitching in all facets is mind blowing. He genuinely cares about everyone, not only on the staff but the entire clubhouse.”
Q: Who in the clubhouse do you look up to the most when needing advice?
A: “It would probably be DJ, but if you are talking strictly player wise, I would say I think we all have an immense amount of respect for each other. We all know we can learn stuff from one another, so we don’t exactly just go to one guy, because we all have a unique amount of knowledge toward the game and pitching.”
Q: What is your goal for the 2023 season?
A: “My goal for 2023 is to build off last year, not only as a player, but as a teammate. Whether it be on or off the field, being brothers within the clubhouse goes a long way in baseball.”