There are many stages of loss, and denial is one of them.
This must be the stage Cincinnati Bengals’ cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is in, based on his post-game comments made regarding his team’s 28-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium in Week 6.
What is Kirkpatrick in denial from? Admitting how the Bengals are the better team. See what he said after the game:
“We’re better than them,” Kirkpatrick said, via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. “They ain’t better than us. Period. They ain’t better than us; we’re better than them. But they won, so my hat’s off to them. I’m gonna be a team player … they went out there and they fought. They got the win; we got the loss.”
While Kirkpatrick does his best to cover up the true crux of his statement, it is hard to consider the Bengals, a team who was thoroughly dominated in so many ways on Sunday, as the better of the two AFC North teams.
Regardless of comments made, the truth remains the Steelers were able to escape Week 6 with a tough, road division win, and by doing so inject themselves right back into the division race. The truth also remains the Bengals missed an opportunity to bury the Steelers in the standings, but failed — once again. Instead, the Steelers are now just a half game out of first place in the division, and this should scare the rest of the division.
After a horrible month of September, the Steelers have suddenly found their way. The offense is putting up just shy of 30 points per game, and the defense is making enough plays to give the offense a chance to win the game. All which were the expectations heading into the season.
What might be even crazier about this situation is how the Steelers, who enter their Week 7 bye week 3-2-1, will play the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, followed by the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9. By Week 10 Pittsburgh will have finished 5 out of their 6 division games. The only game remaining is a home game vs. the Bengals in Week 17 at Heinz Field.
A lot can change between now and then, and Kirkpatrick might just be singing a different tune, one way or another, when the Bengals come to Pittsburgh in the regular season finale.