A lot of preseason power rankings suggested the Bengals might be the worst team in football. We heard the term “0-16” mentioned once because of the team’s perceived lack of talent.
Instead, the Bengals are heading into November on a four-game winning streak at 5-2. They are one of the best stories in the NFL.
Cincinnati beat Seattle 34-12 Sunday in a game that was still in doubt with under five minutes remaining. The game was typical in many ways for this year’s Bengals team: The final result was greater than the sum of its parts.
The Bengals defense chased Charlie Whitehurst from the game early. They gave up a lot of yards to Tarvaris Jackson, but made the key stop or forced a turnover when they needed to.
Cincinnati sacked Seattle 4 times, had seven tackles for loss, and hit Seattle quarterbacks 12 times. A long punt return from Pacman Jones set up the team’s first touchdown, and Brandon Tate took a punt return back for a score to put the game out of reach late.
The offense didn’t do a lot, but Bernard Scott ran for 76 yards and A.J. Green had 63 yards and a touchdown.
Sure, the Bengals haven’t exactly beaten the league’s best. Their five wins are against the Browns, Bills, Jaguars, Colts, and Seahawks. That’s not the point.
This was a franchise expected to be a pushover this year. This was a team that usually wouldn’t win in in a place like Seattle when Carson Palmer was running the show. (This was their first win on the West Coast since 2003.)
The Bengals are 5-2 and have a winnable game against the Titans next week. They have a rookie quarterback, a rookie star at wide receiver, and a rookie offensive coordinator.
They will be playing meaningful games with playoff implications deep into December. That’s a win for the 2011 season, no matter what happens from here.