The Cincinnati Bengals held their emotions in check at critical moments yesterday against their chief rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, despite losing in the fourth quarter. And they would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling refs!
That is, at least, what Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis would have you believe in the wake of yesterday’s 24-20 victory by the Steelers, in which Pittsburgh scored their go-ahead touchdown two plays after the Bengals defense was penalized on no less than four consecutive plays, starting with an offside penalty on third and one and ending with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.
According to Lewis, it was the officials, and not Pat Sims, his player, who was at fault for the personal foul, which was I believe the Bengals’ third of the game, with All-Star boneheads Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict each receiving 15-yard penalties, the former for taunting and the latter for unnecessary roughness.
As far as Sims’ penalty goes, it came with 8:49 to play in the game and the Bengals clinging to a quickly-dwindling two-point lead. Le’Veon Bell took a first-down run off right tackle for no gain. His forward progress had stopped and the whistle was blown when Sims came up behind him and twisted him down and backward.
“I didn’t think that it was a penalty”, Lewis said after the game about it. “Obviously the head linesman thought it was. I think that’s within the play [even though the whistle had already blown – editor] and the emotions got to him. The guy’s running and struggling and we’re just trying to knock the pile back”.
Adam Jones added when asked about the emotional factor, saying that they were not “discipline flags”. He said that “I didn’t hear the whistle” on the Sims penalty, “so I know he didn’t hear the whistle when guys are still running”. It seems a bit odd for a player flagged for a taunting penalty to argue that his team did not have discipline issues during the game.
Lewis also defended Dre Kirkpatrick from criticisms of letting his emotion get the best of him after he was flagged for defensive holding twice on consecutive plays between that offside and the Sims penalty. He was also flagged for pass interference late in the game that let the Steelers run out the clock—and had a visibly emotional reaction.
Kirkpatrick was livid, and expressed his lividity after the game, saying that the officials “let them do whatever they wanted to do and we couldn’t defend ourselves”, and assertion that has a ring of irony in light of the number of missed called against the Bengals defense, many of which we highlighted yesterday.
I am a football viewer who tries his best to view the game, and the teams, from an objective manner, seeing their good and bad irrespective of their relation to teams that I like. But the Bengals have a long-standing history of demonstrating a lack of accountability that continues to baffle me. Most teams own up to it and argue that they need to fix it, rather than denying that it is a problem.