After the crushing defeat we were handed in New England a couple Sundays ago, I was moved to put together a piece on my process of what happens after a Bengals loss. My own Kübler-Ross model, if you will. Though, I'll admit having a successful baseball team helps the bounce-back a little. How 'bout them Reds?
I sift through my feed reader while wearing my Thurman jersey, casually smiling at the Cincy Jungle game previews, and reading some of the NFL.com's comment section to get fired up. A quick prayer to the football gods, a sacrifice to the offensive line, a tribute to the secondary and a fast for the strength of our pass rushers.
Nothing can stop me from believing in a victory, even when it's absurd to do so. You'll hear me spout things like "one pick-six and we're in position to tie it up." I'll quote obscure statistics as through I've been cornered, and only the use of numbers can save me. "Yeah, well, Tom Brady's three-step drop gets 7.8% slower on the second snap of every 4th-quarter drive." But as my brain refuses to accept the outcome, I have already started the grieving process for the week's showdown.
It was game day.
And for the rest of that day, I generally refuse to talk about it. I just block it out of my mind. I take up interest in the other teams playing, desperately searching for one of my number twos to be doing well. Bears, Wildcats, Texans, anyone. As long as somebody who I don't hate is doing well, I can block out the Bengals for one more day.
But deep inside I know that the other fans are loving it. They're torching effigies of players in their favorite bars. They're blogging about how good it feels to have taken a shit on the losers of the NFL. They're high-fiving each other as they fill their fat f**king faces with anchor-themed beer and chow-dah. They're taking everything I hold sacred about my team, and turning them into bad puns and stupid forum signatures. And I know, for one fleeting moment, that Tom Brady stands in his boxers in an apartment high above the Foxborough skyline, looking out of the window, and cracks a slow smile.
So as day three rolls around, most of the fantasy sites have solidified in their results. The games are tallied up and you get the bittersweet satisfaction of a little W by your team's name, or crushing abysmal feeling of the little red L. But either way, Bengals players have made their impact even in your virtual game. And trust me, no matter how many times you've played fantasy football, that week's opponent never starts one of your team's under-performers.
The Madden Game
And you start to get this feeling; trust me. It's not until Palmer has thrown for his 300th yard, or Benson has made his 5th rushing touchdown and after your kicker has more receptions then their top three wide-outs combined. You get this feeling that everything is going to be okay. That your team is finally the insanely over-hyped killing machine that you think they are. Er, thought they were.
Final score: Bengals 89 - Patriots 3
Passing logs comparative to the average for Palmer, for all quarterbacks, for Brady. Average YAC for receivers, passer ratings, and game film for just how fast Bernard Scott hit the hole. At the end of the day, I'm a lean, mean, statistics-quoting machine. By day's end, I know just whose head should be on a silver platter.
Mounting an Offensive
And for that small amount of time, I don't think I could be prouder to be a Bengals fan. Then again, being 19, I have yet to see the Bengals win a playoff game. We'll talk then.
It happens that quickly. In just 144 hours I've already forgotten about last week's game in anticipation of the following week's gridiron match-up. My fantasy team's roster has been selected and checked twice, and I'm back to my pre- pre-game rituals. I've gathering all the ingredients for the brewing process of hating this week's opponent. And I suppose it isn't until now, finally, that able to fully accept a Bengals loss.
I mean, even if it was a team we could have beaten.