It was not a fair match, a fact that became quite clear midway through the 2nd quarter when I turned to Danielle and said "I feel like I'm standing by watching my little brother take on the school bully. I'm really rooting for him, but I know I can't go in there and help him because he needs to learn to stand up for himself. Go little Billy, you can do it!" And that's literally the way I felt for the entire second half, just complete and utter disdain at having to rely on the fucking Bengals to somehow someway steel a game from the Ravens. And of course they couldn't do it. You know why? They're the fucking Bengals, that's why. They're an awful franchise, with a bad front office, a functionally retarded coach (more on that later, but his first challenge in today's playoff game was perhaps the worst use of the red flag I have ever seen), and a roster full of under-performing criminals. So they lose because they are terrible and I'm forced to wince as phase 2 of my "Steelers lose in Foxboro in week 2" prediction comes to fruition. The Broncos can't score a touchdown and go down in flames, except wait Oakland can't win either! Somebody has to win the AFC West, right? Right? Are you sure? We have to let one of these teams in the playoffs? OK, send in the Tebows, everyone will find that interesting.
So fast forward to today...Danielle and I spent pretty much 5.5 straight hours watching the two games, and I again was put in the position of being forced to root for the Cincinnati Billies. Why, you ask? Two reasons, really. First of all if they won they'd have to go to Foxboro next week, and the Steelers (assuming the business of beating Tim Tebow senseless is properly handled) would play Baltimore. To me that is basically a free roll. If the Steelers don't play the Ravens and instead get blitzkreiged in Foxboro, then the Ravens will have won the season against them. But if they could ride into Baltimore and knock the Crows out, that would effectively be like the punching the bully in the gut and taking back the lunch money; the previous beatings would go away. Remember, I have zero belief that the Steelers can beat the Pats in the playoffs; zero. It just can't happen, not so long as Mr. Uggs and Bellicheat are stalking around over there getting shit done. My second reason is actually a bit more logical; if the Billies somehow could win TWO games, and the Steelers ALSO won two games, the AFC title game would be held in Pittsburgh. Pipe dream? Sure. But who wants to root for a team from Texas?
So anyway I spent the entire game rooting on the little Billies, and boy oh boy did they shit the bed with gusto. The stat I heard before the game should have been all you needed to know regarding where to put your money on this game. The Bengals finished with a mark of 9-7, but lost ALL SEVEN GAMES they played against playoff teams. That's right, nine and oh against the chumps, oh fer seven against teams that actually had their shit together. Denver, San Francisco, Houston, Baltimore, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh...all losses. There was just no way Billy could pull this thing off. And it didn't take Marvin Lewis but 15 minutes to see to exactly that. Midway through the first quarter he decided to challenge the spot of the ball (which is a notoriously stupid idea) to try to turn a 3rd and 1 foot into a first down. Think about that. The current situation is that you have the ball, 3rd and 1 foot, somewhere around mid-field, and you decide that what you should do is throw the red flag to try to change the spot of the ball such that you get a first down. If you win, it will be first and ten. The ball will not change hands (for crying out loud it will only move a foot), and the scoreboard will remain the same. And that's if you win! If you lose you'll assure yourself of only having 1 more challenge the rest of the game (you only get 2, unless you win them both, in which case you get a third), and you'll lose a timeout. So of course they lose the challenge (if I were the ref I'd have called it that way just for pure spite) because guess what? The spot was basically right, which was clearly evident on the replay. So then what happened? Andy Dalton ran a QB sneak and converted the 3rd and 1 to...1st and ten. Worst challenge I ever saw.....
And the Billies did all sorts of other stupid stuff, most of which I can't even remember now because we then watched the entire Saints game, in which they mercilessly slaughtered Danielle's version of the Billies; Detroit. That game was kind of a fake out. If you just looked at the scoreboard at half time you would have thought it was a close one. But the stats were mind boggling. Brees was something like 16 of 18 for 175, and they had 120 yards rushing. They only reason the game wasn't over was that they kept fumbling. So what happened? The saints came out and scored touchdowns on 5 straight drives in the second half, only stopping to kneel down with 2 minutes to go with the ball on the Detroit 2. Brees threw for like 900 yards, and Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles also had stupendous games. The only thing I really learned from the game was that the Saints defense is even worse than I thought; anytime you manage to give up 28 points in a game where you offense DOES NOT PUNT you're simply not good. Danielle spent the game rooting for Detroit, and realized midway through the third quarter that rooting for Billy just wasn't that much fun.