The Cincinnati Bengals had their first team meeting on Monday. One of the topics on the agenda was how much they are over their postseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals can talk about being "over it" all they want. The fact is, the loss still stings, and claiming they've moved on at a team meeting isn't convincing proof that they have actually moved on.
In case you missed it, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals in their wildcard game after Jeremy Hill turned the ball over. The turnover was just the beginning, however. Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones teamed up with several costly penalties that helped the Bengals snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Safety George Iloka did not sound convincing when he talked to the media about the heartbreaking loss on Monday, saying via ESPN.com, "Yeah, that's the end of it. That's what he told us to tell y'all." After revealing his coach's talking points, Iloka repeated them, saying, "Honestly anything that happened in the past has no bearing on what next year's results will be. For us, it is just about moving forward and getting better starting from today, and laying the foundation and being ready when the season comes around."
Quarterback Andy Dalton also stuck to the talking points, focusing on the future. He said, also via ESPN.com, "Our mentality is that everything is moving forward. This is a new year; this is a new team."
Everything certainly is moving forward, and it certainly is a new year and a new team for the Bengals. The new year will not include offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who is now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. They also lost Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu, and have been parsimonious in free agency, failing to sign wide receivers to bolster their offense.
The Steelers take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2 of the regular season. It is a safe bet that both teams will be thinking about the rivalry that continued to escalate during the 2015 season and into the postseason. No matter how often the Bengals tell themselves they are "over it," it is a safe bet that the humiliating and avoidable loss to the Steelers in the postseason will be a source of motivation until they have a chance at revenge in Week 2.