Bengals are laughingstock of the NFL

It was a wild finish last night in Cincinnati, and some of the game actually included great football plays. But the Bengals suffered an epic meltdown with the antics of Vontaze Burfict and Adam “Pacman” Jones at the end of the game.

This was after Jeremy Hill fumbled the football after an impressive strip by Ryan Shazier late in the game after it appeared the Bengals had sealed an improbable comeback off a Burfict interception of Big Ben. Hill should have been the primary goat in this game, but then idiocy took over.

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2012 NFL Playoffs: Quick-Hit Reactions from Bengals vs. Texans

The Texans defeated the Bengals 31-10 on Saturday to notch their first playoff victory in franchise history. Here are a couple of quick-hit reactions from this Wildcard contest.

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster rushes for a gain against the San Diego Chargers in the first half at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas on November 7, 2010. UPI/Aaron M. Sprecher

– Many times during the postseason we see a defensive line take over a game and that’s exactly what Houston’s front four did on Saturday. Outside of one or two passes, Andy Dalton simply didn’t have enough time to go through his progressions and get the ball down filed because the Texans’ D-line was up his ass every play. The Bengals’ running game didn’t do him any favors but credit Wade Phillips for putting together a great game plan. (A game plan that turned A.J. Green into a ghost.) Dalton had some success moving the ball in the first quarter but once the Bengals got further off of their opening script, their offense crumbled.

– You say defensive tackle J.J. Watt was a former tight end in college? Huh, could have fooled me on that ridiculous catch he made on that game-changing pick-six right before halftime. It‘s hardly surprising that he turned out to be such a good player in his first year. He’s a fellow Central Michigan Chippewa and those guys can just…flat…out…play.

– Speaking of Watt, how annoying was Mike Mayock when he kept boasting about how he thought Watt should have been a top-10 pick back in April? We get it Mike, you were high on the kid coming out of college.

– Speaking of Watt x2: What were Watt’s odds for the prop bet, “What rookie will score first in Saturday’s Bengals-Texans game?” Andy Dalton 5/1. T.J. Yates 6/1. J.J. Watt 100,000,000/1.

– It’s amazing to think that Arian Foster was once on Houston’s practice squad. You watch how elusive, athletic and powerful he is and it makes you wonder how the hell he wasn’t considered one of the Texans’ top 3 running backs during a given year. That said, Foster has even admitted that he wasn’t motivated until finding out that practice players could be called up, so it’s probably not the Texans’ fault that he wasted some time when he first arrived in the NFL. And boy has he arrived.

– I hate to be critical because the kid is doing the best he can in a difficult situation, but T.J. Yates wasn’t very impressive. On one drive in the second quarter, he overlooked open receivers on two separate pass plays in order to throw to guys that were covered, and Chris Crocker nearly had a pick-six late in the third when Yates threw across his body. (Crocker inexplicably dropped the gift.) But again, how critical can you be of a fifth-round rookie quarterback who won his first postseason game of his career? Peyton Manning didn’t accomplish that feat and neither did Eli Manning or Matt Ryan. I only mention the fact that Yates wasn’t impressive because Baltimore’s defense is a) better against the run than Cincinnati and b) will likely score more than 10 points. Thus, Yates might not be able to step into the shadows and allow Foster and Houston’s defense to take over.

– One thing that was impressive about Yates was the double-move he put on Pacman Jones to burn the corner on Andre Johnson’s touchdown catch. Houston‘s o-line gave him great protection and Yates calmly juked Jones out of jockstrap. (On a related note, it’s easy to forget that Pacman is still in the NFL when he’s not being arrested every week.)

– This game was yet another example of what happens when a team doesn’t have enough offensive weapons. The Texans took Green out of the game and Dalton essentially didn’t have anyone else to throw to. You see this type of thing all the time in the playoffs and you understand why teams like the Saints and Packers load up on playmakers during the offseason.

– The coaches upstairs for the Bengals should have done a better job of telling Marvin Lewis not to challenge Owen Daniels’ first-down catch late in the first half. Had they done their jobs, Lewis wouldn’t have blown Cincinnati’s second timeout and more importantly, the team’s final challenge on a call that obviously wasn‘t going to go their way. That said, it’s ultimately up to Lewis to make sure he still has a challenge in his back pocket for the final 30-plus minutes of the game. That’s just bad coaching all around for Cincinnati.

– That’s a bad half of football, Chris Crocker.

– Despite this bitter ending, it was a hell of a season for the Bengals. I know fans wanted their team to advance but looking at the big picture, nobody expected Cincinnati to make the postseason back in August.

Ten QB-needy teams that passed on Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft

Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rogers calls out a play against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on October 10, 2010. The Redskins went on to defeat the Packers 16-13. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

The sight of Braylon Edwards doing back flips after the Jets beat the Patriots on Sunday must have made Brown fans want to puke. He didn’t help their team win anything in Cleveland and now the jagoff is knocking on the door of a Super Bowl appearance.

What makes the situation even tougher for Cleveland fans is that the Browns could have had the quarterback that absolutely shredded the top-seeded Falcons the night before Edwards and the Jets beat the Patriots. Twenty-one slots after the Browns selected Edwards with the third overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Packers nabbed California quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Where would the Browns be today had they taken Rodgers instead?

Granted, no two situations are ever exactly alike – especially in the NFL. There’s no guarantee that had Cleveland selected Rodgers over Edwards that the Browns would be where the Packers are today. It just doesn’t work that way in sports – or life for that matter. Rodgers could have turned out to be the next Tim Couch for all we know and as I point out below, had the Browns drafted him that year, they may have never acquired feature back Peyton Hillis in 2010.

But for a moment, let’s play the “What if?” game. Let’s pretend that everything would have worked out for Rodgers in Cleveland, just like it has in Green Bay. Let’s assume that the quarterback-needy Browns would have set themselves up by taking Rodgers at No. 3 and with that in mind, what other teams blew it by not selecting the California gunslinger?

Come with me on a journey back to Saturday, April 23, 2005. Below is a list of 10 quarterback-needy teams that passed on Rodgers that fateful day and at what pick in the draft. Also listed are the players those teams took ahead of Rodgers, and a brief look at their current situation.

No. 1 San Francisco 49ers
Who they took instead of Rodgers: Alex Smith, QB
This one probably stings the most. Smith and Rodgers were the only quarterbacks that were worthy of taking at No. 1 and the Niners were set on taking a signal caller. They decided on Smith because they fell in love with his athleticism, which was something Rodgers supposedly didn’t have enough of. Thanks to constant coaching turnover and an unstable situation, Smith hasn’t panned out and Rodgers is running around the Georgia Dome carpet making plays with both his arm and legs. So much for not having any athleticism…

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Roddy White goes off on Bengals as Falcons’ offense finally rolls

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24: Roddy White  of the Atlanta Falcons stiff arms Chinedum Ndukwe  of the Cincinnati Bengals at Georgia Dome on October 24, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

After turning in their worst performance of the year, the Falcons needed a rebound game. And after nearly giving the game away in the second half after building a 24-3 halftime lead, the Falcons hung on to beat the Bengals 39-32 on Sunday.

Roddy White had a massive day, recording 11 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a two-point conversation, although it was his fumble that gave the Bengals life in the second half. Pacman Jones stripped White, then scooped it up for a 59-yard touchdown return to give Cincinnati a brief 25-24 lead.

But White’s 11-yard touchdown reception and two-point conversation early in the fourth quarter gave Atlanta the lead back at 32-25. Michael Turner added a 3-yard touchdown run with 4:33 left on the clock and even though the Bengals got to within one score after a Chad Ochocinco 8-yard touchdown pass with under two minutes remaining, a last-second desperation drive by Cincinnati failed.

This is the type of performance that people expect out of the Falcons’ offense every week and really, there’s no reason why they can’t duplicate this effort most Sundays. Matt Ryan averaged 9.1 yards per pass, Turner rushed for 121 yards and seven different receivers caught passes. The deep pass made several appearances today, which is something that has been missing from the Falcons’ offense much of this year.

The bye couldn’t have come at a better time for Atlanta, which is banged up defensively and could use the rest. In the second half, the Falcons have dates with the Bucs (twice), Ravens, Packers, Seahawks and Saints, so they better get healthy.

The Bengals, T.O. and Antonio Bryant’s knee

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 18: Terrell Owens #81 of the Buffalo Bills stands on the sideline during the game against the New York Jets on October 18, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Bengals signed Terrell Owens to a one-year, $2 million contract on Tuesday according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. In other news, Marvin Lewis also became the spokesperson for Excedrin Migraine.

I like the signing. Actually to be more specific, I like the fit. T.O. could have been toxic to Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez’s development had the Rams or Jets (two teams that had shown interest in the receiver over the last couple of days) signed him. But in Cincinnati he’ll play for a veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer who won’t take his guff and with Pacman Jones, Matt Jones and Tank Johnson already on the roster, there’s no way Owens could pollute the Bengals’ locker room more than it has been over the last couple of years.

But the biggest issue stemming from this signing is what it means to Antonio Bryant. Obviously the knee injury that slowed him in spring practices is still a major concern or else they wouldn’t have signed T.O. Think about it, if they were seriously interested in Owens then why didn’t they sign him before now? What has changed since March (or April, or June, or the first 26 days in July) other than Bryant’s injury worsening?

The other issue is that the Bengals signed Bryant to a four-year, $28 million contract despite there being concerns about his health. He underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee last August and it continued to bother him throughout the season. Yet Cincinnati still gave him a multi-year deal and he’s likely to slide to No. 3 on their depth chart with the signing of Owens.

Considering the Bengals will pound the ball on the ground again this year, they should be fine with Chad Ochocinco, T.O. and a hobbled Bryant in the passing game. (I’m also high on rookie Jordan Shipley, who was nothing short of outstanding as Colt McCoy’s top target at Texas.) But the signing of Owens raises major questions about why the Bengals decided to pay Bryant $7 million a year without being more cautious about his knee injury.

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