Author Topic: Bengals  (Read 26 times)

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Clay Death

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« on: October 28, 2021, 10:58:21 pm »

Before receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s arrival, the Cincinnati Bengals may have been the N.F.L.’s most inconsequential franchise.

The Bengals have a reputation as the football equivalent of a mom-and-pop corner hardware store operating on a shoestring budget. Their state-of-the-mid-20th-century fitness facility features five military surplus weight benches and a garden hose for hydration. Their practice field yields alfalfa in the off-season. Their scouting department consists of unpaid interns and a box of VHS tapes of Ohio State games. Trade requests go straight to their answering machine.

These are exaggerations, but you get the idea.

The pinnacle of the Bengals’ success over the last 30 years was a string of five consecutive wild-card-round losses under Coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton from 2011 to 2015. Yet the Bengals also typically avoid the hilarious catastrophes that make the Jets and the Cleveland Browns so fascinating.

In most years, the Bengals exist simply to balance out the schedule, generate fantasy statistics and provide the Pittsburgh Steelers with an opponent they can beat on the road and still be home in time for a late supper.

Chase’s arrival is changing all of that. The fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft, he has the second-most receiving yards in the league (754) on 35 receptions. He has caught six touchdown passes, four of them for 30-plus yards. He is on a pace to shatter the N.F.L. rookie record of 1,400 receiving yards set by Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings last season. (Bill Groman holds the pro football record for receiving yards as a rookie — 1,473 yards in 1960 for the Houston Oilers in the American Football League.)

On Sunday, Chase caught eight passes for 201 yards, including one on a quick slant route that he turned into an 82-yard touchdown, to fuel a 41-17 Bengals rout of the Baltimore Ravens. The victory, which improved the Bengals’ record to 5-2, was the franchise’s most significant win since its playoff years, if not longer.

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