By Ryan Leong
With the trademark black stripes over an orange helmet, the Cincinnati Bengals have one of the more unique uniforms in the NFL.
They’ve also been known for having star players with nicknames like Boomer, Ickey, and Ochocinco.
This year the Bengals are 5-5 and certainly on the verge of being a playoff contender for the second straight year. Last season, the Bengals made the playoffs on the final game of the season. The Raiders were also in a similar situation going into their final game, but they failed to make the postseason and it led to a multitude of changes to the entire team.
Cincinnati already boasts a solid team with receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton. Thanks to the trade spearheaded by then-head coach Hue Jackson to acquire Carson Palmer in exchange for Oakland’s first round pick (17th overall selection in 2012, which became cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick) and a second round selection in 2013, the Bengals definitely got the better end of the deal by far.
Adding insult to injury is that Jackson is back with the Bengals as a special teams/defensive backs assistant coach. Jackson insists this game will have no other special meaning besides the Raiders being another opponent.
“Honestly, it’s really another football game,” Jackson said. “For me, it is. It has to be. You can’t get caught up in the emotional part of it because that’s not what this is about. This is about winning and losing.”
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis agreed.
“Just like any other player who was here,” Lewis said. “Now he’s not here, so our job is to beat the Oakland Raiders and Carson Palmer on Sunday. He no longer plays here, so I think we no longer need to spend any time speaking about it.”
The person who replaced Palmer at quarterback is Dalton. In his rookie season in 2011, Dalton passed for 3,398 yards and 20 touchdowns, leading the Bengals to the playoffs. He’s even better this year, having thrown for 20 touchdowns in 10 games with a 92.7 passer rating. He has six TDs and no interceptions in the last two games.
Wide receiver Green, also in his second year, has been the main recipient of Dalton’s passes. He has caught a touchdown in nine straight games and is only the second receiver since 1964 to have accomplished that feat. Green is tied with Hall of Famer Lance Alworth, who also caught TDs in nine consecutive games with the San Diego Chargers in 1963. A TD by Green against the Raiders and he ties Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, who scored in 10 straight with the Rams in 1951. The record is held by former 49ers and Raiders great Jerry Rice, who had a touchdown in 12 straight games.
The Raiders know their work is cut out for them. Since 2003, Oakland has a record of 5-25 in the Eastern time zone. That’s a winning percentage of 16.6 percent. This will also be the Raiders fourth of five games in the East Coast time zone, most in franchise history.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.