Monday, October 28, 2013
Morning Stripes: Playground bully edition
By Coley Harvey
One columnist compared the Cincinnati Bengals' absolute demolition of the New York Jets on Sunday to the NFL's equivalent of a big FBS program scheduling a smaller, cash-strapped FCS program for an early-season money game.
Some fans, chief among them the wife of a player on the team that got flattened 49-9, considered the beatdown something else.
They took it all the way back to grade school.
In the middle of the rout, Terricka Cason, the wife of Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, got on Twitter to vent her frustrations at what was taking place. In her eyes, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton seemingly could do no wrong as he worked his way toward an eventual 325-yard, five-touchdown performance. His go-to receiver, Marvin Jones, ended up having a franchise-record four touchdown receptions.
Cason profoundly summed up her husband's team's performance against the Bengals in the following 44 characters: "Dalton making this s--- look like pop warner."
It was the NFL equivalent of a bully beatdown of epic proportions. Except this time, the once puny and wimpish Bengals were suddenly built like a team full of Popeyes, pounding out the type of Herculean victory that made it seem there wasn't even another team on the field. For the record, it should be pointed out that Cason's frustrations ended with an uplifting tweet about knowing "the effort that these guys put forth each week win or lose GO JETS." So she's still standing by her team.
This Monday morning, Bengals fans are certainly standing by theirs as well. Finally, the rest of the league is seeing what they already knew: That this team is pretty strong. Ahead of Thursday night's prime-time game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday's absolute throttling of one of the more scrutinized and studied teams in the country was the type of emphatic win that turned heads that might have paid a cursory glance at the Bengals before. Now, with convincing wins like this one, many are paying full attention.
As we go through the next few days, it will be interesting to see how the Bengals respond to the national respect that has suddenly come to their doorstep. For now, though, let's look back quickly at the playground bullies' most recent win:
As we mentioned earlier, Jones had an MVP-worthy day for the Bengals, coming away with four scores and eight overall catches for 122 yards. It was the type of outing that had Jones bucking his normal end-of-game tradition that includes giving away his gloves. Instead, he made sure he held on to those, and was insistent on tracking down all four of his touchdown balls. Nothing was being given away Sunday, he said. A performance that special certainly deserves a place in the trophy room or the mantle. The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr. wrote about Jones' "tough" day and how it helped spark the big victory.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News suggested that Dalton and Jones were in a league of their own, completely outwitting and outmatching a defense that had taken the New England Patriots to overtime the week before. It was the type of offensive showcase that Jets coach Rex Ryan, known as a defensive guru in most circles, had seldom seen. He certainly couldn't remember when he saw a team play this way against one of his defenses.
While Cincinnati's offense may have dominated headlines Sunday, its defense handled business as well. Not only did the Bengals keep a team out of the end zone for the second time this year, but they also recorded a pair of defensive touchdowns on interception returns from Adam Jones and Chris Crocker. In this postgame notebook written by the Enquirer's Dehner, Crocker discusses how studying got him in position to make the key second-half pick.
With the blowout win, the Bengals made a true statement, writes Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson. This team looks poised to finally get the franchise over the postseason hump that has doomed it the past two decades. It appears better than the 2011 and 2012 versions of itself, and maybe even the 2009 team, Hobson posits. Perhaps a playoff victory, multiple ones, will come this season.