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.
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.
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.