Bengals give small effort to small crowd

By Marc Hardin
FOX Sports Ohio | Bengals Insider
Monday, November 22nd, 2010

According to their supporters, the Bengals can just bag it.

Many Cincinnati fans in attendance on Sunday for the game against the Bills at Paul Brown Stadium showed up with bags over their heads. Some of the bags were colored orange, with a frown, and “Who They” written on the front.

After witnessing an historic collapse by their Bengals, fans were booing from inside their bags.

“We are terrible,” said Bengals receiver Terrell Owens. “And I don’t blame the fans for booing us.”

Who they?

They, the Bengals, on Sunday in the “AFC Battle of the Worst” were the architects of the greatest quit-job in the history of the NFL by allowing Buffalo to score 35 unanswered points to turn a Bengals rout into a Bills blowout.

By losing 49-31 to previously win-challenged Buffalo, the Bengals etched themselves in the history books while joining the Bills with the shared distinction of having the worst record in the AFC at 2-8.

Their records may be identical, but these are two teams heading in decidedly different directions.

The suddenly resurgent Bills have won two straight following an 0-8 start.

“There’s no quit in this team. You really saw that in the second half,” said Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who came back to Cincinnati and beat his former team. “When you get that first win, then you start learning how to win, and everything starts falling into place. What a great team effort.”

The Bengals have lost seven games in a row after starting the season 2-1. They made their coaches look very bad on Sunday. Fortunately, an announced attendance of “55,654” (it was far fewer than that) saw the carnage. The contest was blacked out on local television because the Bengals failed to sell-out a game for the first time since head coach Marvin Lewis’ first season in Cincinnati.

“I don’t blame people for not wanting to come and see the performance we’ve put up,” Owens said. “We’ve made enough mistakes in the last few games to last a lifetime. We may go 2-14 at the rate we’re playing.”

Now the question becomes, after such a complete second-half meltdown against the heretofore worst team in the AFC, is this Lewis’ last season in Cincinnati? Lewis is in the last year of his contract and mired in perhaps his most disappointing campaign of the eight he has served as Bengals head coach

Some believe the Bengals’ snatching of defeat from the jowls of victory on Sunday is a fireable offense for Lewis. Minnesota fired head coach Brad Childress today. The 3-7 Vikings have one more victory than the Bengals, they have won three games at home compared to the Bengals’ one home win, and they are not in last place like the Bengals are. Yet, former Cincinnati coordinator Leslie Frazier has been named interim Minnesota head coach.

If the Bengals needed good reasons to let go Lewis, they had them Sunday.

Against the Bills, the Bengals became the first team in NFL history to lose a game by 18 points or more after leading by 17 or more at halftime. It was the largest margin of victory in league history by a team that had overcome a deficit of at least 21 points.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was only the second time in NFL history that a team that came into a game with a record at least seven games below .500 had fallen behind by as many as 21 points and still won. Sunday was the first time such a comeback victory was accomplished on the road.
 
It was Buffalo’s biggest comeback in 13 years and the Bills’ largest road comeback in 23 years. Buffalo’s 49 points were their second-most of the past 19 years. The Bengals haven’t beaten the Bills since 1988.

The Bills’ 35 unanswered second-half points marked the first time in Bengals history an opponent scored that many without Cincinnati putting up something. The 49 points by the Bills are the most scored against the Bengals since Sept. 16, 2007, when Cincinnati lost 51-45 in Cleveland.

The Buffalo News gave Coach Lewis a Sunday grade of “F” and justified it by characterizing the performance against the Bills as a “fireable choke job. Anywhere but Cincinnati, Lewis would have been fired long before this. They deserve a failing grade for quitting like dogs on (Fred) Jackson’s 30-yard touchdown run with two minutes left. Good luck getting them up for (the) Thanksgiving game.”

The Bengals play on the road on Thanksgiving night with three days to prepare for a New York Jets team that defeated a good Cincinnati team twice last season. The Bengals aren’t as good this year, and there’s plenty of blame to go around, beginning at the top – the very top.
 
GIVING BENGALS FITZ: Fitzpatrick, the former backup to Bengals starting quarterback Carson Palmer, became the latest ex-Bengal QB to beat his former team. Jeff Blake went 3-0 against the Bengals after he left Cincinnati. According to the team’s official site, the one and only time the Bengals beat a former quarterback was Sept. 25, 1983, in Tampa Bay when Ken Anderson directed a 23-17 win against the Bucs, who had Jack Thompson under center.

RUN GAME RALLIES TO NO AVAIL: The Bengals vowed to get running back Cedric Benson going against the Bills and the veteran responded with his second 100-yard game of the season, with 124 on 25 carries. But the Bengals lost for the first time when he received at least that many carries. Entering play, the Bengals were 9-0 when Benson carried 25 times. Benson had 82 yards on 14 first-half carries for a 5.9 average. He had 42 yards on 11 carries after the break (3.8 average).

SECONDARY TAKES A BEATING: Against the Jets, the Bengals will be playing with a patchwork secondary after four defensive backs, including three starters, were injured during Sunday’s game. Safeties Roy Williams (concussion) and Chris Crocker (right knee) and cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph (ankle) and Brandon Ghee (groin) got hurt. Williams is very likely out for the Jets. Crocker could be out for the season with the most severe injury, adding to an already bulging injured reserve list. Joseph, who missed three weeks with the same high-ankle sprain, had two interceptions against the Bills. But he may be doubtful against the Jets.

In Sunday’s second half, the Bengals were down to four healthy defensive backs: safeties Chinedum Ndukwe and Reggie Nelson and cornerbacks Leon Hall and Rico Murray. Against the decimated secondary, Fitzpatrick was able to carve up the Bengals for 316 yards and four touchdowns, three second-half TDs going to receiver Steve Johnson, who riddled Hall on Sunday. Johnson was so shifty, at one point Hall fell down in coverage and Johnson scored on the play.