You can see it in their body language. It’s that look of confidence and control which signals the fear has gone. The once ridiculed doormat of the NFL has gotten a taste of the good life and they want more. The Cincinnati Bengals are tired of knocking at the door. They’re set to break it down and answer questions later. The Bengals don’t panic when they’re behind in a game. They just come back and win.
When the Bengals entered their annual AFC North slugfest with the Steelers, there was a different air about them. The look of awe – which usually surrounds playing Pittsburgh – was replaced with a distinctive swagger. Each Bengals player embraced the job that was expected of them and rose to the occasion. Each time Andy Dalton started a drive, it seemed to sputter. The Bengals’ accurate passing-machine seemed to be malfunctioning.
But the Bengals don’t panic.
The Bengals have been turned into an elite machine that cranks out wins and shuts down when the prospect of losing is mentioned. Losing is an illogical entity, a state of mind that doesn’t exist for the new Bengals. Their psyches have been renewed and transformed. They expect to win, no matter what the odds are. They understand the odds against them and face the challenges. A.J. Green was talking to the media in a business-as-usual manner after the Bengals’ win in Pittsburgh. He was eager to let the football world know how the whole team felt. He expressed himself via SB Nation and didn’t flinch.
“Everyone wants to talk about the old Steelers. I think it’s time to take a look at the new Bengals.”
That wasn’t the voice of an old Bengals player. That was the thunderous confidence of a new generation of warriors who seem ready to dominate the rest of the league. They don’t flinch.
“We’ve got big goals,” defensive end Michael Johnson added. “We get to them by sticking to what we do best. We did that against them today. But the main thing we did? We set our jaw. There was no flinching.”
The Bengals don’t panic and they don’t flinch. They just win. The theme is concise and accurate. It has them sitting at 7-0 and in command of the AFC North, at the midway point. They have become one of the best teams in franchise history.
No matter how good this new Bengals team is, it will ultimately come down to what they do in the playoffs. They have four straight years of postseason appearances and no wins to show for the effort. Getting to the Promised Land is great. But the goal is to finish. So far, the Bengals players of 2015 have a short memory when it comes to losing. They just win.
After Shawn Williams picked off an ill-advised Roethlisberger pass, the Bengals were set up at the Pittsburgh 45-yard line. The Bengals marched down the field and scored with confidence. They didn’t panic. They just won.
The Bengals must win against the Browns on Thursday Night Football. A win under the lights will solidify the new mindset and let the rest of the world see just how dominating they have become. In order to be viewed as the best, the Bengals have to win like the best. Dalton will be able to prove that he is better than his 3-7 record in prime-time.
Thursday’s game is almost a year to the day when the Bengals lost to the Browns. It was an embarrassing, ugly loss. Cincinnati has a chance at redemption. They also have a chance to show they don’t flinch. They just win.
[Feature Photo by Rob Carr / Getty Images]