There are no more chances. The Cincinnati Bengals have come down to the last straw. That last lingering hope is AJ McCarron. The second-year quarterback will be the one leading the Orange and Black attack for the remainder of the regular season. Vegas, analysts, and various journalists are ready to write the epitaph for the 2015 Bengals. But the year isn’t over. There are three more games before the playoffs. Cincinnati’s Super Bowl dream isn’t done yet. The fat lady hasn’t sung.
It was only a matter of time before the snide remarks and insults were hurled at McCarron and a reeling Bengals team. After all, isn’t that what makes cash? Isn’t it dope to talk trash about a player or organization when their down? Yeah, that’s what’s up. Those who make millions off predictions and game spreads are always going to put a lump of coal into the laps of those who cheer for certain teams. But that lump has the ability to turn into a diamond.
The Bengals have a hiccup on the road to the playoffs. It’s not a major derailment. The next man up is AJ McCarron. He ain’t no slouch. The Bengals aren’t done yet.
Before you rip up your Bengals jersey and vow to never follow the team again, take a deeper look at the situation. Do a little research on the new signal-caller. McCarron is no stranger to pressure. As a starter at Alabama, he’s seen the bright lights and they don’t faze him. He’s championship stock. It’s time for him to let that pedigree shine under the NFL spotlight.
There’s already one nasty bit of history McCarron will be trying to erase. He can become the first Crimson Tide quarterback to end the losing trend in the NFL. According to the lads at ESPN, the last time an Alabama quarterback won was on November 15, 1987, when Jeff Rutledge led the New York Giants to a 20-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. It was one of two victories the former ninth-round draft pick had in his career.
But the Bengals’ new leader has far more important things on his agenda.
“That’s history. I’m not really worried about history. I’m worried about what we have right now, the team we have and my job at task.”
When asked about his performance and the two interceptions in Sunday’s game, he responded like he was anxious to get back on the field and prove he has the juice.
“You have to embrace it. I love it. You have to love pressured moments,” McCarron said. “That’s where the great ones really shine. I guess Tom Brady was in the same situation when he had the opportunity. I’ve got to make the most of it and do my job each week. I know we have an unbelievable defense and if we don’t turn the ball over we have a great chance. Like I said, I promise to God I will work my tail off and be ready to go.”
That championship pedigree is pouring from his veins. The Bengals know it. They can feel it. Some media insiders were ready to have a field day with the loss and the quirky interceptions. But Dre Kirkpatrick told his Bengals teammates to rally around McCarron. The Bengals definitely aren’t done yet.
“I told Marv and A.J. and Sanu in the fourth quarter, hey, you all need to rally around AJ. Don’t let anybody bash him,” remembered Kirkpatrick. “Continue to uplift him. Because we’re going to need him down the stretch. He got thrown in the fire today. I feel like with a little more repetition and preparation, he’ll be all right for this team.”
That doesn’t sound like a team that is ready to quit, like so many insiders are reporting. The Bengals are a team loaded with talent and desire. The three game stretch before the playoffs will reveal many things about the Bengals. But it surely won’t uncover a team of quitters.
“Let’s face it, it would have been a miracle win,” Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “I don’t know if we could have done much more in that situation. We fought our tails off. It’s tough, but we have the kind of men who rise up, put your shoes on and let’s go.”
The Bengals are ready to lace the Nikes up and run to the finish line. The season isn’t done. That big lady with the horned helmet hasn’t walked onto the stage. Until then, the Bengals are still in the race for Super Bowl L.
[Feature Photo by Gary Landers/Associated Press]