7 takeaways from another Bengals-Steelers debacle

Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 10:13 AM

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) talks to other players during their game against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
Greg Lynch
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) talks to other players during their game against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF(Greg Lynch)

The only question about the Cincinnati Bengals collapse against Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football was if the Steelers would check back into the game soon enough to take advantage.  

Of course, they did. 

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Why was this predictable? Well there is of course the fact we’ve seen it happen with these teams before but also Cincinnati has been a bad second half team. 

The Bengals came out with a great plan keeping Steelers D off balance. As has happened multiple times this season, it only lasted so long.  

The Steelers are a good comeback team. 

Joe Mixon getting hurt obviously didn’t help. 

There’s only so much good Andy Dalton can do in one game against a good team before the magic dust runs out.  

The similarities to the playoff loss were uncanny, but plenty of people have already pointed that out. 

Some thought Marvin Lewis should be fired after that game. I did not, though I might have moved on from Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict to set a precedent about the consequences of actions. 

Of course, that didn’t happen, but now it’s more certain than ever Lewis’ time has run out. 

Whether it happens this week or early next month, the Lewis era can’t continue in Cincinnati. 

It’s had some great times. Overall, it’s a success, but last night was another reminder those days aren’t coming back — let alone be exceeded. 

Not everything is on the coach. 

Some of the penalties were bad calls.  

Individual players are responsible for their actions.  

But there’s no indication Lewis has any idea how to make any of this better.  

There’s obviously a lack of leadership and mental toughness on this team, and that falls on the coach.  

The Ryan Shazier hit was a reminder the NFL too often punishes the wrong type of hits.  

I guess it’s a good thing I can’t really think of anyone who hits like he does, but spearing like that is dangerous for both players involved and it’s never flagged. 

I’m glad to hear positive reports coming out about his health, but I hope this is a wake-up call for him because those types of hits are way too common from him. 

Shazier’s coaches have let him down letting him continue to tackle that way. That starts at the youth level and includes Ohio State and Pittsburgh. 


I don’t really think the hit JuJu Smith-Schuster put on Burfict should be illegal. 

Burfict is a big scary linebacker. He knows he needs to protect himself when he’s out on the field and getting cracked like that by someone you don’t see is a possibility. 

That said, if he aimed for the head I’d probably consider it excessive. 

Beyond that, there’s no room for the taunting. You got the bully. Good for you. Move along now. You look petty and small when you stand over a guy like that, and he’s lucky no one came along and cleaned him out, too. 

I thought the hit by George Iloka on Antonio Brown in the end zone was probably accidental, though of course by rule it is a penalty. 

That was a weird play because of the way Brown contorted to get the ball. He was almost parallel to the ground trying to snatch the ball then his head ended up there as he was straightening out. 

Iloka appeared to be aiming for the ball and basically Brown’s head replaced it in that space as the Bengals safety arrived. 

I saw a lot of media folks tweeting about this level of violence is not what the NFL wants people to see, and they’re right. But it is probably what a majority of fans want to see.  

The violence is part of the appeal of football for fans and players -- hence Ben Roethlisberger just calling it, “AFC North football,” after the game. 

That doesn’t mean anything goes, but there are hits that are illegal that probably no fan or player thinks should be (unless it happens against them and they can get free yardage).  

The league has gotten rid of some unnecessarily dangerous head shots, and that’s good. But it has also basically waged a PR campaign against itself that could backfire.  

Trying to redefine what’s appropriate is just as likely to turn some people away.

That includes both groups who think the game is too violent (even though it’s less so than it used to be) and those who think it’s not violent enough anymore (I don’t think they’re right either, although having to wonder if there is going to be a flag after every big hit takes away something).  

Sacrificing some fandom to provide more safety for players — even when that means protecting them from themselves at times — is worth it in the grand scheme of things, but there is a limit there somewhere. I don’t know if we’ll reach it or not.  

Meanwhile, the Bengals are left to play out the string. 

Last night would have been more disappointing if it weren’t so predictable. 

I wasn’t buying into them being playoff contenders — or to have the chance to win if they got there — so today doesn’t feel much different than yesterday where I’m sitting. 

Let’s see what some of the young guys can do the rest of the way and start to speculate on who will be the coach next season since it certainly won’t be Marvin Lewis. 

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Trotwood-Madison loses to Akron SVSM in D-II boys state final

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 7:18 PM

            Myles Belyeu led Trowood with 20 points. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Myles Belyeu led Trowood with 20 points. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Trotwood-Madison’s bid for an elusive boys state basketball championship was undone by nemesis Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 60-51 at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center on Saturday night.

It was the second straight Division II title for the Irish, who also defeated the Rams in last year’s D-II state semifinals. It was a record eighth state title for Akron SVSM, the program that LeBron James elevated during his celebrated run with the Irish. That snapped a tie with Middletown.

Trotwood (26-4) had a 19-game win streak snapped. Akron SVSM (21-8) also defeated Trotwood early in the regular season.

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Anthony Muñoz on sports in Ohio: ‘It’s special’

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 7:05 PM

Cincinnati Bengals great Anthony Munoz learned right away how important sports are in Southwest Ohio and throughout the state.

Anthony Muñoz was a special player for the Cincinnati Bengals for 13 seasons. 

In Columbus at the boys’ basketball state championships to be recognized as part of the OHSAA Circle of Champions, the California native explained the special place sports have in Ohio helped convince him to stick around long after his pro football career was over. 

His daughter, Michelle, and son, Michael, also were recognized as part of the Circle of Champions along with former Ohio State basketball star Dennis Hopson, Ohio State football standout William White and Dwight “Bo” Lamar, who played in the ABA and NBA. 

Michelle Muñoz was part of a state championship season for the Mason girls’ basketball team while Michael was a highly-regarded offensive line prospect at Moeller High School. 

They both went to Tennessee for college, though Michelle finished her career at Ohio State.

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Flyers’ Mescher on state title: “We got a little help from upstairs”

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 3:42 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 4:07 PM

Marion Local senior Tyler Mescher hit the game-winning free throws in a 52-51 defeat of Willoughby Cornerstone Christian to win a boys high school basketball D-IV state championship at OSU’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Sat., March 24, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

His knees knocking, Tyler Mescher of Marion Local heeded a little help from teammate Tyler Prenger.

“He said calm down, you got this and relax,” recalled Mescher. “Easy shots.”

Not quite. Mescher’s pair of rim-rattling free throws with 2.6 seconds left in the second overtime was the difference as Marion Local stunned Willoughby Cornerstone Christian 52-51 to win a boys high school Division IV state basketball championship on Saturday afternoon.

»RELATED: Marion Local after basketball title, too

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It was one of four season-ending divisional championships that were held at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.

It also completed a rare state-title double for Marion Local (25-4), which also won a D-VI state football championship last December.

»RELATED: Marion Local state semifinal photo gallery

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No one came up more clutch than Mescher for the Flyers. Trailing by one in the second OT, his first free throw clanged several times on the rim and backboard before circling and falling through the net.

WATCH: Marion Local wins state title on late free throws(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

The second rim-rattler wasn’t as dramatic, but almost.

“We got a little help from upstairs,” said Mescher, a robust senior who doubled as a blocking tight end and defensive end on the football team.

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“I couldn’t stay still at all. It’s a dream come true to be able to shoot those free throws. Any little kid, that’s their dream, to be able to shoot two free throws at the end of a state championship game and make them both.”

Cornerstone (21-8) missed a half-court heave and the Flyers’ fans - among the 9,620 in attendance - rocked the Schott in celebration.

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»RELATED: Boys state final four pairings

Mescher’s bucket with about 10 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.

“There aren’t many 6-1, 240-pound guys on our schedule,” Cornerstone coach Dan Selle said of Mescher. “He’s not a vegetarian. He eats meat for breakfast. He’s tough as nails and a lot of respect to him. He’s a guy you hate to fight against but you want to have on your team.”

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Mescher and Nate Bruns each had 18 points to lead the Flyers. Mescher also had nine rebounds.

Bruns, a 6-6 wing who doubles as the Flyers quarterback, added 14 rebounds. It was Bruns’ 3-pointer with 17.7 seconds left that knotted the teams even and forced the second OT. He had several late key field goals, free throws and rebounds for the Flyers.

“We had to go to our money man late in the game,” Flyers coach Kurt Goettemoeller said of Bruns. “He’s a stud.”

»RELATED: Boys regional results

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Prenger added three 3-pointers and 10 points.

Cornerstone, anchored in Lake County and a Cleveland suburb, is an independent that mostly played high-level Division I and II teams, which made its record deceiving. The Patriots also had the D-IV state player of the year in Michael Bothwell. The Furman signee tallied a game-high 23 points.

“State-wide, I definitely had the feeling we were an underdog,” Goettemoeller said. “We figured it out at the end. We just found a way a get it done.”

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Is was the third boys state basketball title for Marion Local, which also won in 2003 and 1975. The Flyers were a state runner-up in 2004.

Cornerstone won a D-IV state title in 2016 in its only other final four appearance.

Of the Flyers’ 12 players, 10 also played on the state-title football team.

“This senior class, that really shows what they’re made of,” Bruns said. “To be able to do that in both (sports), that’s something special for them.”

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Mescher hits winning free throws as Marion Local wins state title

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 12:58 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 1:01 PM

WATCH: Marion Local wins state title on late free throws

Tyler Mescher converted two free throws with with 2.6 seconds left as Marion Local stunned Willoughby Cornerstone Christian 52-51 in double-overtime to win a boys high school basketball Division IV state championship on Saturday.

That matched Marion Local’s D-VI football state title it won last fall, making the Flyers a rare double state winner in the same school year.

A senior, Mescher’s first free throw rattled all around the rim before falling. His second also clanged in. Cornerstone inbounded and missed a half-court heave as time expired. Marion Local players and their fans erupted in celebration.

Mescher and Nathan Bruns each had 18 points to lead the Flyers (25-4). Bruns also had 14 rebounds. Tyler Prenger added 10 points.

Cornerstone (21-8) was led by D-IV state player of the year Michael Bothwell with 23 points.

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