Bengals actually in hunt

Did you say “Bengals” and “seven wins” in the same sentence? Did I also catch the phrase “first-place team” when describing the Bengals? You must be joking right? I can’t believe this.

Watching Matt Schobel reel in an 18-yard pass from Jon Kitna, concluding a 52-yard drive to give the Bengals their seventh victory of the season, ghosts of Boomer Esiason and David Fulcher entered my mind. Clearly this team has a long way to go before it matches up with the prowess of that 1988 Super Bowl team, but we deserve to think it can happen.

Just last season Bengals fans were dreaming of the days of Esiason hitting wide receiver Tim McGee for a long touchdown completion. Or when Ickey Woods would perform his “Ickey Shuffle,” in the back of the endzone after scoring from five yards out. Can this team be that good?

Instead of Boomer, we now have Jon Kitna. Instead of the tandem of Eddie Brown and McGee, we now have Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick catching passes. Instead of Ickey doing his shuffle, we now have Kelley Washington and his “Squirrel Dance,” which made its debut after his breakout game in San Diego, and could be seen on “The Best Damn Sports Show Period,” Tuesday night.

That team was fun to watch and this team is doing many of the same things.

Thank you, Marvin Lewis. Cincinnati has been waiting for 14 years for this to come, and now that it is finally here, expect Bengal fans to take full advantage of it.

We suffered through some horrible teams with the likes of David Klingler, David Shula, Akili Smith, Neil O’Donnell and Ki-Jana Carter. Does anyone remember James Hundon? If not, you can catch up with him playing in the Arena Football League. We deserve at least one season of success, don’t we?

For the past 12 years there has been parity in the NFL, everywhere except Cincinnati. While the Bengals were immersed in two-win seasons, the rest of the NFL has had 10 different champions, every other team (except for the Texans) has made at least one playoff appearance and, besides one playoff showing in 1990, the Bengals have yet to finish a season with a winning record.

The fans rewarded the franchise by passing a tax, enabling Hamilton County to construct a brand new stadium for our not-so-lovable losers.

So far the new digs haven’t stopped the Bengals from failing, until now. Lewis has whipped his team into something this city hasn’t witnessed since the days of Sam Wyche. A team garnering (positive) national attention for its play on the field.

So bring back the days of James Brooks, Rodney Holman, Lewis Billups and Cris Collinsworth. Bring back the Jungle and all of the craziness that goes with it. Find ways to put the last 10 years behind us, no more of Chris Berman calling them the “Bungles,” no more criticism of our perennial top-five draft pick, just good, competitive football.

Don’t blame me if I look at this four game winning streak with an eye of skepticism. After all, I am a Bengals fan, and I know how miserably the Bengals can fail. I would like to think this has changed however. Hopefully it finally has.

The Bengals are just two wins away from a playoff appearance. Can this be true?