As I write this, the Bengals have won their first playoff game in 31 years, defeating the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19. Can that be possible?
I remember watching the Bengals winning one of their very first games played in Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium back in the late 1960s. That would be more than 50 years ago.
I can say the last 31 have not been much fun. What has happened to get them back into contention?
Most people would say Joe Burrow, the present quarterback, is the main reason. Hard to argue that fact.
But they have had several good quarterbacks over those years. Why this quarterback? Just watch him in the huddle. He is a take charge guy. My thinking is simple. Very talented, yes indeed. But Burrow is a small town Ohio boy, who grew up with the Bengals. He feels at home and there is nothing like playing in a comfort zone.
Plus the team drafted his favorite target from LSU, Ja’Marr Chase. They know each other so well that Burrow can let go of the ball almost before Chase makes his cut. Barring injury, we will enjoy this combination for many years I hope.
Mike Brown and his staff have brought in some support, namely offensive linemen, to protect their quarterback. I prayed for most of their past quarterbacks who spent most of their time dodging defensive linemen and linebackers. It is very hard to throw an accurate pass when you have 250 pounds hanging on your back.
It is not perfect yet but I think they realize this quarterback is special. When they lost him early in his first season due to a lack of protection, maybe the Bengal brass woke up.
They also beefed up the defense some. Lets hope this continues. They need more Sam Hubbards on that defensive line. They also have a very accurate field goal kicker. This guy will win a lot of games.
For a change, this team is fun to watch.
Tony Lamke is a former coach. He has researched the history of Clinton County sports and writes a periodic column for the News Journal. He can be reached at [email protected]