The Bengals’ 27-21 loss to the Steelers has me pondering the catch-22 of success and potential.
I’m happy they came back to make a game of it even if that made the feeling of loss that much more acute when Carson Palmer’s last pass fell out of Jordan Shipley’s hands and to the ground on 4th down. I’m glad I actually think they should have beaten a team certainly headed for the playoffs. That was a foreign feeling for pretty much all of the 1990s and most of the rest of the past decade, too. This Bengals team is the quintessential NFL team that’s not quite run right or coached well enough. The talent is there to win despite the flaws, and they are competitive despite making the same critical errors over and over again. A couple teams have so much talent they can barely screw it up. A couple more are so bad they can’t win without doing everything right and getting breaks. The Bengals are a lot closer to the former. If not, I wouldn’t be disappointed right now. It’s nice to have expectations again and not look at this as a team that had a flukey good record last season. I knew this would be a tough year because of the quantity of tough teams on the schedule, but I thought they’d stay in the race much longer than this. And for much the same reason, I’m still optimistic they aren’t that far away, so what feels worse tonight should make the rest of the season worth watching and the offseason somewhat hopeful.
It beats the 1990s, but it’s not exactly fun, either.
I guess it’s a good type of different, for what that’s worth.