Note To Bengals And Self: Don’t Lose Stupid

by Kevin Burton

   Two takeaways from Sunday’s Chiefs-Bengals AFC Championship game, one a smirking aside, the other more lasting.

   To set up the first one, I remember when the late great John Madden had just left his brilliant career as Oakland Raiders coach and just begun what would prove to be a brilliant career as a color commentator for NFL broadcasts.

   I forget most of the details, but the Cowboys had just gotten a call they didn’t deserve, and Madden said, “These Dallas refs, they’ll find something…”

   The team they called “America’s Team” got the benefit of the doubt and then some from friendly referees in those days.

   Now you have to ask whether we are in the era when the Kansas City Chiefs are that golden team who the league and its referees will protect and favor.

   In the third quarter Sunday, KC got a third down mulligan that defies explanation. The zebras erased a whole play when it turned out to be a failed third down pass for Kansas City. It wasn’t the first or the last call they got.

   I should explain here that Cincinnati is my favorite team but Kansas City is my second favorite. So if these are sour grapes, they’re not very sour. Maybe semi-sour, like semi-sweet chocolate chips?

   Anyway, my more lasting takeaway comes from the Bengals’ own stupidity. The game was perhaps headed to overtime tied at 20, but Cincinnati’s Joseph Ossia hit KC quarterback Patrick Mahomes after he was well out of bounds, to add 15 yards to Mahomes’ five-yard run. 

   The scramble was Mahomes at his gutsy best, running on a very bad right ankle, leaving it all on the field with the Super Bowl on the line.      

   Ossia’s stupid, pointless late hit brought KC close enough that the game-winning field goal was from only 45 yards out.  Kicker Harrison Butker made Cincinnati pay.

    There were eight seconds left when this happened.  If Ossia had not committed the stupid fowl, does anyone doubt Mahomes’ ability to complete a sideline pass and get them into field goal range anyway?

  I’d say the odds would have been 75-25 in Mahomes’ favor.  So maybe the Chiefs would have won anyway. But Ossia essentially handed them the game.  

   That’s what he did.  For me as a fan, the pain is at one level. Imagine what would it be like to be in the Cincinnati organization, to pour your heart and soul into a season, to be at such a high level of professional excellence, and then to lose stupid. 

   Poof, end of season. Stew in this for six months. Have a nice day.

  I can live with it when somebody lines up and outplays me or even if the ball bounces funny on a given day or play. I just don’t want to lose stupid. 

   Well I’m not a football player, so my takeaway needs to be applied to real life. Not everything in life is going to go my way.  But let’s have those inevitable slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the ones Shakespeare wrote about, let’s have them not be self-inflicted.

   If I am making uninformed or overemotional decisions, not doing my research, my due diligence. If bad habits or choices make my personal life’s hill to hard to climb, that’s on me.  If I can keep from doing those things to myself, maybe I stand a fighting chance. 

   I’m not an IT guy so I had to look up this next bit:

   When a computer antivirus program puts an infected file in quarantine it deletes the file from its original location and makes changes to it so that it cannot run as a program.  It then transfers it to a hidden program where it stays until you the user chose to deal with it.  This is according to

   That sounds about right.  That’s what I want to do with the memory of this championship game, have it quarantined.  Except for the don’t lose stupid part. That I need and want to carry with me. 

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