Bengals say ‘Bye-bye’ to 2010 season

The Bengals were already behind the proverbial 8-ball when the 2010 schedule was released – they have arguably the toughest slate in the entire NFL.

However, how can a talented, yet inconsistent team decrease its fleeting playoff hopes even more? By losing to two of the worst teams in the league in back-to-back weeks: the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (I don’t care what the Bucs’ record is now. They’re horrible and they’ll prove it by the end of the season.)

The Bengals went up to Cleveland last week and got beat by the terrible Browns, 23-20. OK, cross-state rivals, Browns were desperate, some calls didn’t go the Bengals’ way. That stuff happens; one-week aberration. We all knew the Bengals would re-group, pound the atrocious Bucs and go into the bye week with a 3-2 record. At least their playoff hopes would still be alive despite the brutal schedule the rest of the way.

And while they weren’t dominating, it was looking good for a while on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals led 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, but allowed Tampa Bay to drive and tie the game with a touchdown with 52 seconds left.

Alright, plenty of time for Carson Palmer (who we all thought at one time was a great NFL quarterback – remember those days?) to get the team in field goal range for Mike Nugent to win it. Worst case, the game goes to overtime.

Well, the sloppy Palmer throws his third interception of the game, the Bucs follow it up with a great throw-and-catch, make a chip-shot field goal and end the Bengals’ season right then and there. It still seems surreal: Tampa Bay 24, Cincinnati 21. There was no possible way for the Bengals to lose that game in regulation, yet they pulled it off.

Other than severe depression, I took a couple things away from this game:

1. It’s amazing how far Palmer has fallen. He was a Pro Bowl quarterback who was thought to be closing in on Peyton Manning and Tom Brady as one of the best in the league. Just the thought of that belongs on Comedy Central now. He doesn’t just rack up the interceptions these days, he’s also developed a knack for throwing the pick-6. Maybe it’s time for the organization to quit coddling him (such as bringing in his little brother to be the backup when he doesn’t even belong in the NFL).

2. This team is so poorly coached that even Mike Brown might figure it out at some point. (Well, never mind, he won’t.) Hey Marvin Lewis: How does it feel to get out-coached by Raheem Morris? You should get a medal for that. Or at least a dunce hat. Go sit in the corner, Marv! Once again you have proven you are one of the worst coaches in the NFL. You are clearly the Bengals’ best head coach since Sam Wyche, but that is an inditment of Dave Shula, Bruce Coslet and Dick LeBeau, not a compliment.

So, for the readers out there, hopefully your favorite college team is doing well this year. And if you play fantasy football, hopefully you’re doing well in that department as well. Because as far as the NFL is concerned, the Bengals waived good-bye to this season – at least as far as making the playoffs are concerned – on 10/10/10. I was called pessimistic for predicting a 9-7 season, but the Bengals won’t even reach nine wins this year. They’ll be fortunate to make it to 8-8.