THAT JUST HAPPENED: Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Diego Chargers

Bengals Chargers WWII PosterWhereas the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts treated us to maximum gore and splendor in their Wildcard affair on NBC Saturday evening, the San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals felt more like watching C-SPAN coverage of a Supreme Court hearing on mineral rights.


It doesn’t help that Phil Simms was around. On the last Chargers possession of the first half and facing a third and eleven, he questioned whether the Chargers would want to get a first down or force the Bengals to expend their last timeout in order to get the ball back. THEY CAN’T GET THE BALL BACK IF THE CHARGERS GET A FIRST DOWN YOU BIG DUMB MEATHEAD. Just…I…Arrrrrrrgh. Simms is perhaps the most frustrating of all football commentators around, which is saying something because most of them are pretty poor. They don’t come more conservative in thinking. He would rather punt in all circumstances. He is the human punt flag. A lot of NFL coaches think like him – like Marvin Lewis maybe? We’ll get to him later. Just know that Phil Simms is the last thing you want to rally around. He preaches caution and retreat dressed as “smart plays.” We pay to watch fun. He isn’t. the bastard will tell you to slow down just you start to relax and enjoy yourself. He wants you back at the house by 9:00 P.M.


Another problem: I saw referee Jeff Triplette way too much. I know the son-of-a-bitch’s name. Under no circumstances should I learn the name of an official for anything. If I know who you are its because someone screws up in a non-entertaining way. I turned this on to watch the tall fat guys hit each other and score touchderbs. Why don’t you guys show me a Powerpoint too. I’ve got officials squawking at me and wasting my time and then Phil Simms has to fill the dead space. Know where the dead space is now? IN MY SOUL.

Before the first half was out the NFL took two opportunities to confuse its audience on the basic premise of what a catch is. This is something the league has excelled at over recent years. The league managed to avoid disaster by making the correct decision on both occasions, but the review process itself caused enough stress that by the end of it you felt like you were told by your doctor you had a hemorrhoid instead of colon cancer. You’d rather avoid the whole thing.

This was exemplified by the review of a catch by Russell T. van Tallhugefritz (EDIT NOTE: actual receivers name is Jermaine Gresham) on the Bengals final possession of the first half – the same possession Phil Simms was so concerned about. Here was the situation:

Bengals completed pass to Chargers 28-yard line with 12 seconds to go. Receiver ruled inbounds so the clock ran. Bengals got to the line and spiked the ball with two seconds remaining. This is where the NFL gives bureaucracy a bad name.

Apparently the officials decided to review if the Gresham catch that set up that spike was completed. But the Bengals ran a play after it, so doesn’t that mean the play can’t be reviewed? The receiver had both feet inbounds with control of the ball, so why is this even a thing? Why is there blood coming out of my ears?

Well they reviewed the play regardless of procedures the league seems to make up on a weekly basis. The play stood. After the review though, the clock stayed at two seconds and was a running clock! Did the spike play happen or not? If it did the clock should be stopped! If that play never happened there should be twelve seconds left! What the Christ is going on! This is a playoff game, get the procedures straight! Someone call the National Guard already. No one knew what they were doing.

The next time you complain about the government, understand that the NFL is one of the most profitable private enterprises out there AND LOOKS LIKE THIS. OFTEN.

FUN FACT: Nugent made the field goal anyway after all of that kerfuffle. The next time a coach tries to ice a kicker he should be shot by firing squad on the national mall.

This league confounds. At one moment it embraces all that is athletic and beautiful about the human form, and the next moment it is all that is grotesque and confusing about the human mind.


This game was terrible, and it happens far too often in the NFL for that league to get the money and attention it does. We all got suckered on this one. I haven’t even brought up Marvin Lewis or Andy Dalton yet. Know what, they behaved exactly as you thought they did. They lost.

We all did.