Yeah, so, okay. When I started this Bengals trip I did say that I expected them to play like England. Today I was proved right.
First, we have the strong start. Two plays in, Palmer fires a 60-odd yard missile downfield which Henry catches right on the money. Unfortunately, not only does this play take Henry out, who landed badly after a tackle, but a Steelers defensive player "accidentally" grabbed Palmer's ankle, then "accidentally" slammed his shoulder into his knee, a knee which "coincidently" happened to be Palmer's bum-recently-seriously-injured knee. Bye-bye Carson, see you next season. Yeah, I admit it, I'm having a little difficulty seeing such a fortuitous (for the Steelers) event, which seemed so unlikely and so deliberate, as accidental. But, whatever.
Bengals backup comes out. I didn't even bother memorising his name. Jon something-or-other. And, well, hope was maintained. For about a quarter and maybe half of the second quarter. Cincy took the lead. The defense was almost everything that the season had promised. The offense were making plays. Jon what's-his-name was moving the chains and scoring points. Dreams of a matchup in Indy were surfacing.
And then, half-time.
That's when the Bengals went home and sent out the Ohio State Varsity Girls Volleyball Team (B-squad) in their uniforms.
Jon whatever-the-hell-his-name-was couldn't hit a cow's arse with a shovel, and that's when he could be bothered to throw. Most of the time he was merrily trotting around the backfield waiting for the Steelers' defensive line to get bored enough to sack him. One play, he was so well protected whilst looking downfield and apparently not seeing three - count 'em, three - open receivers waiting for a throw that he fumbled the ball. I shit you not. Twenty yards away from the nearest Steelers guy, standing completely in the open, he just .. drops the ball. Must have run into some sort of fly-type insect or something.
Pretty much the only successful throws he made were to guys in black helmets. Hint: You're supposed to be throwing to the guys whose helmets look like tigers, y'know, orange and black stripes?
Meanwhile, the defense manfully tried to stop a Steelers offense that includes a guy called, and the size of, "The Bus", who was pounding up the turf as fast as he was pounding up the Bengals. Tried, with limited success. The Sleelers offense even got so cocky and relaxed that they started trying out circus-trick plays to impress the crowd. And scoring from them.
And, with all the predictability and inevitability of an England-Germany World Cup quarter- or semi-final, the clock ground down and my team were stuffed and mounted.
But, once again, like England, we were crap, but not that crap. At least we scored, eh, Giants?
June. Germany 2006. A chance to live it all again.