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New Bengals helmets?
A great season was spoiled as the Bengals of old lost three of their last four games of the season, again missing the playoffs. But lets be honest, at the beginning of the season if someone told you that the Bengals would have had a legitimate chance of making the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, you would have dismissed such a notion.
Let us hope for another productive off-season and great season next year. Who-Dey!
Regular Season Record: 8-8 Division Placement:Second Place
At this time last year, the Bengals were owners of the worst record in the NFL at 0-7. Now, a year later, the Bengals under new head coach Marvin Lewis are 3-4. Marvin Lewis deserves the credit for the Bengals early success thus far. Firstly, new head coach Marvin Lewis has instituted a policy that the players and other coaches respect. He emphasizes “poise and finish” to his players. He also has brought full pad practices to Wednesdays and Thursdays as he demands supreme effort and attitude out of his players. He has also reshaped the new Bengals, replacing more than half the players from last year with new ones. Key free agent acquisitions including Tory James and Kevin Hardy have led the team also to its success anchoring the defense, along with incumbent starters Brian Simmons and Justin Smith. The Bengals have also transformed themselves from a predominately run heavy team to a swift passing attack team (though Lewis still persists that running the ball is their main focus on offense). Jon Kitna has stepped up big at quarterback, not making the mistakes in recent games that he is infamously known for in Cincinnati. Jon is not working alone, with Peter Warrick and Chad Johnson on pace for career years. Rookie WR Kelly Washington has also played a key role in the offense success while creating his trademark “first down sign.” Rudi Johnson has filled in strongly for Cory Dillon who has missed most of the season do to injury and other personal issues. This team has been able to transform itself and it has shown in the Bengals record, enthusiasm and desire. A team who seemed to be more self-motivated than team motivated a year again has turned 180 degrees wanting to win as a team. The short term goal of winning the division is still intact only being a game out of first place behind the Ravens. The Bengals have rejuvenated the life in the hearts of most Bengals fans as the city rallies around its hometown football tradition.
Finishing the season 8-8, the Bengals had what many would say to be a ‘great’ season. Marvin Lewis was runner-up in coach of the year balloting for the Associated Press, and two Bengals – Willie Anderson and Chad Johnson, were named to the pro bowl team. The Bengals have made quite the improvement from a measly 2-14 season. But can one classify this season as ‘great.’ The answer: No. The team started off 1-4, but looked as if they were a step away from turning the corner, losing tight games to Oakland, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo. Then, the Bengals turned it around after a bye week winning two straight against future playoff teams Baltimore and Seattle. The team traveled to Arizona the week after and lost a so-called ‘must win game’ against Arizona. With playoff hopes slipping away, the Bengals defeated Houston to keep the team alive. Then came the turning point of the season, when Chad Johnson made his infamous guarantee that the Bengals would beat the undefeated Chiefs. Playing with nothing to lose, the Bengals knocked off the previously unbeaten chiefs, and with the win started to gain the national recognition (of a winning team) that they had been seeking for years. The Bengals went on to win their next two games after that, putting them in first place of the AFC North, and with in striking distance of a playoff birth. At this time, the Bengals were certainly having a ‘great’ season, almost too good to believe, and it was. The city of Cincinnati was riding on high with the Bengals most successful season since 1990, and a shot to make the playoffs for the first time since that season. Unfortunately, this playoff birth with premature; the Bengals of old showed up to play their last four games of the season, losing three of the four with an average margin of defeat of fourteen points. The Bengals missed on their playoff hopes yielding to the 9-7 Ravens who went on to win the division. When the Bengals controlled their own destiny, they did not show up in the clutch. They failed in their quest to make the playoffs yet again, and this time they actually had a realistic opportunity for post-season action. To call this season a ‘great’ season, with the finishing four games the Bengals played, would be unjust to the people who had believed that the Bengals of old were completely gone. But the Bengals of old are mostly gone, now it is time to hope that in future seasons, they do not decide to come back and play a few games, or another great season might go down the drain again.
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2004 Preseason Schedule
August 10 at New York Jets 1:00 p.m.
August 16 DETROIT 7:30 p.m.
August 23 TENNESSEE 7:30 p.m.
August 29 at Indianapolis 8:00 p.m. EDT
2004 Regular Season Home games
Baltimore (10-6), Cleveland (5-11), Pittsburgh (6-10)
Buffalo (6-10), Miami (10-6)
Dallas (10-6), NY Giants (4-12)
2004 Regular Season Away games
Baltimore (10-6), Cleveland (5-11), Pittsburgh (6-10)
New England (14-2), NY Jets (6-10)
Philadelphia (12-4), Washington (5-11)