The Bengals' regular season finally kicked off Sunday, but it didn't quite go the way they, and many others, believed it would.
Instead of returning to Cincinnati with a Week 1 win that would have put them in first place in the AFC North, the Bengals begin this week like everyone else in the division: reeling from a loss and looking to fix everything that went wrong. Chief among the modifications the Bengals will be making the next seven days before Monday's home opener against the Steelers are tweaks to their composure. With the anxiety and excitement of the opening week now behind them, their focus the rest of the season will be to ignore any taunting or pushing and shoving from opponents and not retaliate.
That lacking composure played a hand in Cincinnati's 24-21 loss to the Bears. It was one that occurred after Chicago mounted a furious second-half comeback when it was down by as much as 11.
As we mentioned earlier, the good news for the Bengals is that the rest of the division lost, too. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time since Week 10 of the 2010 season that the entire AFC North went winless in a single weekend. That won't happen in Week 2.
One day after Cincinnati's disappointing defeat, here's what's being said. Check out this morning's stripes:
What had at one point seemed like a certain win turned into disaster thanks to a trio of turnovers and costly penalties. Before the proverbial wheels fell off for the Bengals, one person in ESPN NFL Nation's Bengals-Bears live chat named "The Fat Lady" even chimed in and said she "just got a call to go to soldier field ... wasn't expecting to get there until later." Moments later, the Bears turned their 21-10 deficit into a 21-17 score. Minutes after that, they took a lead they wouldn't relinquish. In the locker room after the game, the mood was somber but hopeful. Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com noted the optimistic tone players had as they tried to keep the proper perspective on this loss: It's only Week 1, and they went on to make the playoffs two of the past three years after losing their first game.
As the Bengals move forward through the season, they will have to, in the words of receiver A.J. Green, "stop killing [themselves]." The way Cincinnati killed itself was by playing dumb, Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty wrote. In addition to the turnovers and the penalties, the Bengals also had communication issues as they tried to work through personnel tweaks and substitutions. Overall, it wasn't a very clean ballgame.
Daugherty wasn't the only one who called the Bengals' play Sunday dumb. ESPN columnist and native Chicagoan Mike Wilbon chimed in with his thoughts on the Bengals' play on Twitter. He said: "... real story for the Bengals--once again--is being stupid...what a dumb team...mistakes, penalties and moronic behavior..." CincyJungle.com pointed out that defensive back Adam Jones took exception to Wilbon's comment and replied by saying: "we did make some dumb [decisions] today , but that don't make us a dumb team !!!!!!! We correct it and move on ..... Period."
In this photo gallery, the Enquirer's Joe Reedy takes a look at some of the key moments, stats and issues that led to the Bengals' loss. If you don't click the link for any other reason, you at least have to check out the haiku at the end. It concisely and perfectly summed the contest.