The Cincinnati Bengals defeated Buffalo (3-3), to run their unblemished record to 6-0. The start matches a franchise record set in 1988, when the Bengals defied the odds and reached Super Bowl XXIII. After four years of reaching the playoffs and losing in the first round, Bengals fans are starting to believe. They are standing toe-to-toe with other NFL fans and believing in the rebooted Bengals.
Andy Dalton was appearing in a Celebrity Softball event, before the MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati. When the Bengals’ quarterback was announced, the hometown fans gave him a resounding “boo.” Andy took the jeers in stride and played the game. He wound up hitting a home run to help his star-studded team win. Social media was full of jokes about the incident.
The warm reception the crowd gave Dalton carried over into his work ethic for camp, and that attitude has spread to the rest of the Bengals team. They have readjusted their losing attitudes and believe they can beat any team in the league. The Bengals have actually caused a head coach to give them praise for having diverse weapons of assorted destruction. Buffalo leader Rex Ryan was beside himself, per the official site of the Bengals.
“That team has lit up everybody in the league,” Ryan said after the game. “Obviously that team is difficult. You take away this guy, take away that guy, and this other dude beats you. So it is kind of what happened. Dalton got hot, made a great pass into a single coverage, other than that I mean it was tough sledding. We knew it was going to be tough. That is about, you know, about as good as an offense you can play in this league.”
The Bengals know they’re good. Just another day at the office.
There’s a difference between being cocky and being confident. The Bengals have found a smooth mixture of both. Winning in the National Football League is sometimes a mixture of luck, great players and motivation. The Bengals have been able to harness all the intangibles and put them into a string of impressive victories. The NFL coaches are drinking the Kool-Aid. But the players have felt it all along.
The Bengals have swag. That’s what Jeremy Hill says. It’s stronger than ever, on the streets of Cincinnati. Bengals merchandise is flying off the shelves and the town is decked out like Halloween. The Men in Stripes are causing quite a stir. Playoff fever has taken hold early and the fans are starting to believe.
Bengals fever hasn’t been at such a level since the 1988 season. But the current Bengals players don’t remember that year. The oldest member of the team is an old man at 33. That would be Bengals’ tackle Andrew Whitworth.
Tying the franchise record for wins is a major accomplishment. Yet most of these Bengals players want more. Andy Dalton exemplifies the new attitude. He spoke with pride in a quote from the Bleacher Report.
“You get better as you go. But also, just know this about our team–there is no flinching here in anybody.”
No flinching and no quit. The Bengals are proving they can hang with the rigors of the NFL schedule. The next step is to prove they can move forward in the postseason. The Bengals fans are going crazy. They’ll believe even more, with a playoff win.
[Feature Photo by Robb Carr/Getty Images]