Steelers punish Bengals, 29-14, lead AFC North heading into prime-time game at Detroit, Oct. 29
Ding, ding, ding…
“Mr. Bruce, I hate to wake you but it is time for me to take a blood sample,” said the very beautiful nurse that was attending me. As I was jolted back to the real world from the world of dreams and legends, I suddenly realized that something was a tad off. No, the aroma of the food that filled my nostrils was not coming from the media cafeteria buffet at Heinz Field, but from the “victuals” being supplied by the dietary department of UPMC Montefiore. I was in a panic. Did the game start yet? My roommate had a surprised look on his face. “Not yet,” he said. “It’s only 11-o’clock. Don’t you remember that you asked me to wake you up at 11:30?”
At that point I almost didn’t remember where I was. After enduring a few hours of pregame chatter, (the monitors are always muted in the press box) it was time for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals’ new critically-acclaimed NFL Cinematic sensation: “Burfict the purrfect kicking machine, part II.” But “Cincy” made only a brief, “cameo” appearance in Pittsburgh’s dominating 29-14 win.
The Bengals entered last Sunday’s game (Oct. 22) on a two-game winning streak attributed to two things; 1. Throwing their former offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese under the “losers bus.” 2. A newfound swagger. The Bengals had all the reason to be confident. Cincy’s “thug-in-residence” Vontaze Burfict had just received his “get-out-of-jail-free card” coming off an NFL suspension just in time to face his reviled enemies and to also practice his newfound placekicking, oops I meant “ace kicking skills.”
This game was about more than an NFL matchup between two bitter rivals. When Pittsburgh goes against Cincinnati, the matchup compares two different cultures. One team had maintained a history of losing and has since exited the “cocoon of mediocrity,” establishing a legacy of excellence. The other was founded on the riverbanks of legends and has since been swallowed up by the “quicksand of mediocrity.”
Ding, ding, ding. The clock has now struck 12 midnight for Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. Lewis stormed out of the Bengals’ postgame press conference after being asked why he chose to go for it on fourth down with his team down by two scores. I should have been so lucky. I would have loved to have been able to walk out of the hospital and cover the game from my usual perch in the press box. I have a sneaking suspicion that current Bengals headmaster Marvin Lewis may in the very near future be watching NFL games, not necessarily from a hospital bed, but from his own bed at home.
Why? Well, because his tenure and the success of his team in 2017 could both be on “life support.” I will be going home in the near future, but Lewis might be looking for a new coaching home soon, very very soon. The “bus of blame” has made a U-turn, making one wonder if Lewis is the next Bengals coach scheduled to be the next speed bump.
This Sunday, Oct. 29, the Steelers face another set of “jungle cats” when they travel to Detroit to face the Lions. Don’t let their 3-3 record fool you. Lions QB Matthew Stafford is dying to prove that his team belongs. What better way to prove it than in front of a Sunday Night prime-time audience. If Pittsburgh has any doubts, think of some other animals that have devoured them—the Bears and Jaguars.
(Aubrey Bruce may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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