I don’t believe in curses.
I don’t believe in voodoo, hexes, sorcery or jinxes.
I don’t believe in any of those things in regular life and I certainly don’t believe in them in sports.
What I believe in are solid foundations, good management and talent. That’s what it takes to win, not shamans, trinkets or sacrificial virgins (you’ve got to think the mid-2000s Bengals tried that a time or two, don’t you?).
What it takes to win is what the Steelers have done over the last decade or so. Yes, it’s becoming redundant to point toward Pittsburgh for a vision of success, but it’s impossible to deny their success and even tougher to defend the Bengals against their divisional rivals. The latest loss may have been the toughest one since Kimo von Oelhoffen became a dirty word in Cincinnati. Once again, we were convinced if there was a time to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s woes, this was it. And there was good reason — Troy Polamalu was out, as was the team’s starting center and their top two running backs.
It was as if the stars were aligned and if the Bengals didn’t beat the Steelers this time, they never would. And with several errors in the first half, it appeared it was going to be as easy as expected. And then... then... Andy Dalton all but handed the ball to LaMarr Woodley for an interception, leading to an easy Steelers touchdown.
Since Marvin Lewis took over the Bengals, Cincinnati is 1-10 at home against Pittsburgh. This one, though, this one hurt more than most.
It’s been a tough month in Cincinnati. The playoffs were here and it appeared the Reds were going to cruise to the National League Championship Series, coming back from San Francisco up two games to none in the best-of-five series. The Reds, who hadn’t lost three games in a row at home all season, did that when it mattered the most.
The Bengals not only lost to the Steelers, but also lost at home to the Dolphins and on the road to the hapless Browns. It appears the Bengals are now a four-point underdog to the Fightin’ Animals of Bye this week.
And then, just as it appeared the University of Cincinnati football team had a path to a BCS game, the nationally ranked Bearcats went to Toledo and lost to a MAC team before the showdown with Big East co-leader Louisville this week.
It’s been a bleak month despite unseasonably warm weather, but it’s close to over, so there’s that. The bad part is that while the month may be close to over, the Cincinnati sports malaise isn’t.
No, it’s not a curse, nor a jinx. It’s the same as it ever was, bad luck, bad coaching, a bad organization and bad play. Self-pity over sports is trite and boring, but it’s hard to look at our scene from the outside and not feel anything else.
Thinking Out LoudIs your Reds heartbreak helped any by the Cardinals’ loss to the Giants? Not only will the Cardinals not go back to the World Series (and heaven forbid, win it), but they suffered the same fate as the Reds — having three games to win one, but yet unable to do it against the team from San Francisco. ... Marvin Lewis likes to remind every fan and reporter that coaches know more about football than they do, and he’s right — those who make their living in the NFL certainly have much more knowledge than the average Joe. That said, it doesn’t take Vince Lombardi to read a scoreboard. ... One of the joys of not having to write a thrice-weekly column or whatever you have to do at what passes at our major metro now is that I don’t have to just make stuff up that has no basis in reality. I know it can be tough to come up with things at times, but I never want to have to write total fiction like the possibility of Josh Hamilton returning to Cincinnati as a free agent. That’s as likely as a Joey Votto and Homer Bailey for Joe Blanton trade. ... Sometimes I’m shocked at what people do or don’t read. No matter what is written, people will read what they want to read, not what was written. Or, some of them will be led like sheep by others. There’s nothing like those who listen to talk radio instead of actually reading themselves. Having worked in local talk radio, I don’t believe half of what I hear on those stations. And just because someone says it, it doesn’t mean they believe it.