I have been a Cincinnati Bengals fan for over 20 years now. Man, I feel old just saying that. For most of those years the national media has referred to my team as the Bungles and not the Bengals. I’ve never really taken much offense to those mocking my team though, considering they have only had 1 winning season (prior to this season) in the previous 18 years. The Bengals had a record of 9-7 (9 wins, 7 losses) back in 1990 but then followed that season with 14 straight non-winning seasons:
1991 3 – 13
1992 5 – 11
1993 3 – 13
1994 3 – 13
1995 7 – 9
1996 8 – 8
1997 7 – 9
1998 3 – 13
1999 4 – 12
2000 4 – 12
2001 6 – 10
2002 2 – 14
2003 8 – 8
2004 8 – 8
Then I experienced 1 glory year:
2005 11 – 5 (The Bengals won the AFC North, but lost in the AFC Wild-Card playoff game to Pittsburgh, a game in which many (myself included) thought the Bengals would win until quarterback Carson Palmer was injured on the second play of the game.)
Followed by 3 more non-winning seasons:
2006 8 – 8
2007 7 – 9
2008 4 – 11 – 1
So, what should you do if you’re supposed to be part of a team represented by a fierce Indian killer cat but instead others refer to you as group of clumsy inept sports performers? I’ll tell you what you should do! Do exactly what the 2009 Cincinnati Bengals are doing so far this season.
1st – Start off your first game of the season playing like the better team and leading the game against the Denver Broncos with 28 seconds remaining only to lose on a fluke tipped pass that miraculously lands in the hands of a streaking receiver who races in to score a touchdown which results in a heartbreaking 12-7 loss. Same old Bengals! Or so we thought.
Next, you follow that with 4 straight wins, the first being on the road at Green Bay (31-24) and the next three against division opponents at home against Pittsburgh (23-20), at Cleveland (23-20 in overtime), and at Baltimore (17-14). Those wins are HUGE and people start taking notice but many will be waiting for you to turn into the Bungles, me included.
After that show signs of becoming the Bungles by losing a home game against the up and coming Houston Texans 28-17.
Many will think that may be the beginning of a losing streak, but no! Your next plan of action is to demolish the visiting Chicago Bears at home 45-10 by having your quarterback throw 5 touchdown passes and score points on the first seven offensive drives.
Then, after a week off you continue taking care of business by showing you mean business by beating the Baltimore Ravens at home and Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh for a second time! Remember these two teams were the top 2 teams in the AFC last year and the Steelers are the defending Super Bowl champs. Yep, the Bengals beat the Ravens 17-7 and then out-physicaled the Steelers 18-12.
So now this takes us to the present day, today is November 16th, 2009. The Bengals are 7-2 overall, 5-0 in division games and in first place in the AFC North. I don’t know what will happen during the rest of this season but one thing I feel is safe to say. The Bengals are no longer Bungles!