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. 

RELATED: Steelers rally for 23-20 win in Cincinnati

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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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5 things to know about the local high school football season (Vol. 1) 

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 12:37 PM

Fairmont QB Braden Miller unloads. Beavercreek defeated visiting Fairmont 14-3 in a GWOC National East high school football opener on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Staff Writer
Fairmont QB Braden Miller unloads. Beavercreek defeated visiting Fairmont 14-3 in a GWOC National East high school football opener on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF(Staff Writer)

High school football practice is getting closer, and our team previews are already rolling out. 

Miss any? 

Don’t worry! We’ll be recapping them periodically. 

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Here is version one: 

1. Fairmont wants to prove last year was no fluke. 

After being one of the surprise teams of 2017, coach Dave Miller’s Firebirds (7-4) are hungry for a second straight trip to the playoffs.

They have five marquee games on the schedule: the first two (Alter, Northmont) and the last three (Wayne, Centerville, Springfield).  

Their potential formula for success is a tale as old as time: The coach’s son (Braden) running the triple option. What’s not to love?  

»FULL STORY: Fairmont Firebirds football preview 

2. Valley View is hoping for a rousing encore, too. 

Are the Spartans back?  

One of the powerhouse programs of the ‘90s is coming off consecutive playoff appearances.  

They were undefeated in the 2017 regular season, and they don’t have to go far for firsthand stories about the glory days because the coaching staff includes former VVHS stars Brock Bolen and Andy Keating. 

»FULL STORY: Valley View football preview 

3. Greeneview could be better than last year’s 10-win team. 

The only other time the Rams went undefeated in the regular season (1996), they lost just about everybody to graduation.

Not so this time as 13 starters return, including all-conference performers Nick Clevenger, Clay Payton, Collin Wilson and Nick Wolfe. 

Quarterback Clevenger is the reigning Ohio Heritage Conference player of the year. 

»FULL STORY: Greeneview Rams football preview 

4. Arcanum looking to build off strong finish. 

Can the Trojans make a big jump in year two of the second Jason Schondelmyer era?

After going 4-6 (but winning three of their last four) in ‘17, they say numbers are up in offseason workouts. That’s never a bad thing, especially in Division VI, and especially for a team looking for its first winning season since 2008. 

They won’t have to wait to see how much progress they made in the offseason as Greeneview visits in week one. 

>>FULL STORY: Arcanum football preview 

5. Milton-Union is under new management, but it’s a familiar face. 

Like Arcanum, the Bulldogs are a former powerhouse being led again by a former head coach of the program. 

Can Bret Pearce (six playoff appearances the first time around) wake the echoes in his first season back at the helm? 

Having an experienced backfield (senior QB William Morris and senior RB Robbie Grove) helps, but they have to replace all-time leading rusher Zac Shields. 

>>FULL STORY: Milton-Union football preview 

Want more? 

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Dayton Flyers to open season on a Wednesday

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 11:13 AM

Dayton Flyers interview: Trey Landers

Two more non-conference games for the Dayton Flyers have become known in recent days.

The University of North Florida published its non-conference schedule on its website, and its first game is at Dayton on Wednesday, Nov. 7. That will be the 2018-19 season opener for both teams.

» SCHEDULE NEWS: A look at A-10 pairings

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The first day teams can play is Nov. 6. The NCAA moved up the start date from Friday to Tuesday this season so the teams can play their season openers during the week and not on a busy weekend for football.

“The start of the season had become so compressed with the holidays and exams,” Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president for basketball, told NCAA.com, “that the additional three days allows schools to better schedule the start of the season and it’s the benefit for the student athletes and coaches.”

North Florida finished 14-19 last season and ranked 282nd out of 351 teams in the Pomeroy ratings. It was one of the youngest teams in the country, ranking 331st in experience. It returns 10 of 12 players and its six top scorers.

Dayton beat the Osprey 86-71 at UD Arena on Dec. 5, 2015. That was the first meeting between the programs.

» DAYTON FEATURES: Donnie JonesJosh CunninghamTrey Landers | Ryan Mikesell

Another game that hasn’t been officially announced will be against Presbyterian. Jon Rothstein, of CBS Sports, reported that game last week, though a date was not announced.

Presbyterian, located in Clinton, S.C., finished 11-21 last season and ranked 334th in the Pomeroy ratings. It was a Division II school until 2007. It has not had a winning season since moving to Division I.

Dayton played Presbyterian once before, winning 71-52 at UD Arena on Dec. 19, 2009.

Presbyterian’s football program will join Dayton in the Pioneer Football League in 2021.

Here are the other known non-conference games:

Nov. 21: Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Possible opponents: Virginia, Middle Tennessee State, Butler, Florida, Oklahoma, Stanford and Wisconsin.

Nov. 22: Battle 4 Atlantis.

Nov. 23: Battle 4 Atlantis.

Nov. 30: Mississippi State at Dayton.

Dec. 8: Dayton at Auburn (reported by Rothstein).

Dec. 16: Dayton vs. Tulsa at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

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D.J. Carton’s commitment another major step for Ohio State

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 10:35 AM

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 22: Ohio State Buckeyes mascot Brutus Buckeye rolls across the court before the game against the Miami Redhawks at Value City Arena on December 22, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 22: Ohio State Buckeyes mascot Brutus Buckeye rolls across the court before the game against the Miami Redhawks at Value City Arena on December 22, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

In his first year at Ohio State, Chris Holtmann proved he can develop an NCAA tournament team and an NBA prospect. 

Could he sign a potential pro, though? 

That was the biggest question the day Keita Bates-Diop declared he was foregoing his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA draft. 

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(The Big Ten Player of the Year was chosen in the second round last month.) 

Holtmann signed a top 25 class last fall, but none of the four players in the group came as highly regarded as Bates-Diop, who was a top 30 prospect coming out of Normal, Illinois in the class of 2014. 

Now Holtmann has two top 30 players committed for 2019, the latest being D.J. Carton. 

A five-star point guard from Bettendorf, Iowa, Carton reportedly chose Ohio State over Indiana and Michigan. 

He’s the No. 2 point guard in the country and ranked the No. 21 overall prospect in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite rankings

Carton joins Garfield Heights forward Alonzo Gaffney (who committed in April) to form the No. 4 recruiting class in the country at the moment. 

Why Ohio State? 

Carton told 247 it was a matter of his relationship with the current Buckeyes. 

“I felt like I was already apart of the team. They brought me in. I feel like I can be myself around them. It came down to that. The other two schools had everything I liked, and it was a really hard decision, but it came down to that.”

Carton and Gaffney can sign in November. 

They are scheduled to join a roster that already looks pretty solid all around. 

Though college basketball rosters are more fluid than ever, the 2019-20 Buckeyes should include a proven big man (Kaleb Wesson), a pair of four-star forwards (Kyle Young and Jaedon LeDee) and multiple young guards/wings, including Musa Jallow, Duane Washington, Luther Muhammad and high-scoring Versailles product Ahrens. 

Ohio State also has CJ Walker, a transfer from Florida State who must sit out this season, at point guard, so Holtmann should have plenty of options when it comes to putting together lineups. 
Ohio State signee Justin Ahrens is having another great season for Versailles. With his brother AJ, he hopes to lead the Tigers to a MAC title and state tournament berth.

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5 local prep players looking to contribute for Miami RedHawks this fall 

Published: Friday, July 13, 2018 @ 12:51 PM

Five players who graduated from area high schools are on the current Miami football roster, including a pair of starting offensive linemen and a couple of players coming back from injury.

In his fifth year as Miami football coach, Chuck Martin has a roster that is all his. 

That includes five players from Cox Media Group Ohio high schools, and he shared his thoughts on their roles for this fall. 

Jordan Rigg, OL, Springboro

A fifth-year senior, Rigg has started 25 games for the RedHawks. He was a third-team All-MAC pick last year at left tackle. 

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“Obviously a very athletic kid,” Martin said. “He didn’t have a lot of offers coming out of high school and has really developed into a really good player so having that left tackle with experience protecting the quarterback’s back side makes you feel good having a senior coming back.” 

Jordan Rigg of Springboro H.S. is headed to Miami University to play football. He joined other area seniors who signed to play football at the Greater Western Ohio Conference signing ceremony at the Huber Heights Athletic Foundation Center on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Maurice Thomas, RB, Talawanda 

A fourth-year junior, Thomas has run for 502 yards for the Red and White and was a third-team All-MAC pick in 2016 before having most of last season wiped out by injury. 

“He’s getting bigger, getting big and strong. Very fast. We thought he was really going to have his breakout year last year then got hurt at Cincinnati and didn’t play the rest of the season.” 

Talawanda senior Maurice Thomas (left) has verbally committed to Miami University.(Martin Wheeler)

Jarrett LaRubbio, OL, Lakota East 

A fourth-year junior who spent one year at Kentucky, LaRubbio started eight games up front last season and was named the team’s offensive newcomer of the year. 

“We’re counting on him again to be in our top five up front and to play a lot of snaps for us. He’s physical, tough, hard-nosed, plays the game you love to see in the trenches.” 

Lakota East High School’s Jarrett LaRubbio (75), seen in action during the 2012 season, is in the starting lineup for Miami University this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO(Contributing Writer)

Dean Lemon, DL, Alter

The 2014 GCL Defensive Lineman of the Year has had injury problems so far in his three years at Miami, playing only nine games (none last year). 

“We were hoping he would be an impact player for us last year. He’s healthy right now. Dean’s got a lot of ability. He’s just been nicked up throughout his career. If he can stay healthy, we think he can be really productive at D-end.” 

The Alter Knights Dean Lemon takes down Clinton-Massie's Bayle Wolfe Friday night at Welcome Stadium in the Division IV, Region 14 final. LISA POWELL / STAFF(Lisa Powell)

Ja’don Rucker-Furlow, DB, Belmont 

The newest area RedHawk, Rucker-Furlow is an incoming freshman with a lot of upside. 

“He’s obviously a great basketball player who has only played a little bit of football. He really came on last year. 

“Length. Ball skill. Speed. He’s very raw. He’s going to have to learn how to play the game. Once he does, we think he’s going to be a really good player.” 

Jadon Rucker-Furlow of Belmont is one of a large group of players Division I colleges are interested in for the class of 2018.

Want more on the RedHawks? 

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