One play, on one Sunday, is still haunting the Bengals to the day. It was in 2005' and the Bengals had just won their first AFC North title and earned their first playoff birth since 1990'. Everything seemed to be going the Bengals way. The Bengals had a young nucleus of players, they had an emerging star in Carson Palmer, and the future seemed bright. The word "Superbowl" was even being floated around the city of Cincinnati.
On one play, on a very important Sunday everything came to a crashing halt. On the first pass of the game Carson Palmer hit Chris Henry on a 60-yard bomb and Paul Brown Stadium erupted in cheers. One second later COMPLETE SILENCE! Carson Palmer was lying on the ground in agony. The former Bengal Kimo Von Oelhoffen had destroyed Carson’s knee on a hit. Devastation swept over Bengals Nation. Was it only a bad dream? Painfully it was not a dream. It was a harsh reality. The season was over. To make things even worse on Bengals Nation the Steelers went on to win the Superbowl. After a decade of losing it seemed the Bengals were finally on their way to becoming a successful NFL franchise.
Now it is 2008' and the AFC North Title seems like a distant memory that never really happened. The Bengals are 0-6 with their franchise QB on the shelf because his offensive line could not protect him and keep him healthy. There is no optimism left in Cincinnati. There is little hope that the Bengals will ever regain their 2005' form. annddd Noww... The 1st place dreaded Steelers are coming to town. The team that derailed the Bengals hopes for returning to prominence in the National Football League. It is still a very sore subject in the city of Cincinnati.
PRE GAME GOODIES:
The Steelers are coming in to their week 7 match-up coming off a bye week where they were able to get some key guys healthy. The Steelers have been banged up as of late and could not have had a bye week at a better time in the season. Willie Parker (The Bengals Killer) was supposed to be coming back this week but he injured his knee in practice. Parker's injury is good news for the Bengals because Parker always seems to kill the Bengals. The Bengals will be without Carson Palmer once again for the third time this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be leading the Bengals into battle for the second straight week. The Bengals are 0-2 with Fitzpatrick as their Quarterback. The Bengals must get something going offensively to have any hope in this game and earn their first victory of the 2008' season. The offense has been very inconsistent with Fitzpatrick at the helm. The Bengals would love nothing more than to knock the Steelers off.
Keys To A Victory:
- Pressure Big Ben and don't let him escape.
- Get the running game going and stop the run.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick must improvise and make plays.
- The Bengals must win the field position and turnover battles.
- Get the playmakers involved in the offense.
It is time for the Bengals to look to 2009'. Carson Palmers health needs to be the teams #1 priority. He should not play this season unless he is 100% healthy. The Bengals should start to get the young guys involved. Pat Simms, Jermome Simpson, Andre Caldwell should be on the active roster and given a chance to show what they can do. The Bengals should put more of an emphasis on the development of their young players than winning football games. The Bengals will probably have a top 5 pick and they should identify their needs for next year and start scouting potential players.