Not thinking often means not winning in pro sports
By BARRY WILNER
Nov. 13, 2017
Professional athletes recognize perfection might be a goal, though not a realistic one.
Teammates, coaches, owners, even fans can handle losses as long as their teams are diligent and passionate.
It's when the brains stop working that things become hard to handle.
So if folks in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Jacksonville and Nashville are beside themselves after Sunday's action — and the Jaguars and Titans won — who can blame them?
"We've obviously got the talent," Bengals linebacker Carl Lawson said after Cincinnati self-destructed —sound familiar? — in a 24-20 defeat at Tennessee. "But talent doesn't win games."
That the Bengals have the skills isn't as evident as Lawson says. That they stop thinking at critical junctures of games is far too apparent.
Last week, it was A.J. Green, usually the consummate pro, getting into a fight. This time, it was Vontaze Burfict — yes, him again — getting ejected, and quite possibly suspended, for touching an official.
"It's tough on him (Burfict) being one of our best players and getting thrown out of a game is not a great feeling," Green reasoned. "You hurt your team. I did it last week, and I regret it. I'm embarrassed with what I did last week, but you can't lose your cool."
It was even worse for the Chargers and, despite victory, the Jags. They each had a string of no-thought moments in a wacky affair won 20-17 in overtime by Jacksonville.
Try this, all after the two-minute warning:
After Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles throws into double coverage and Tre Boston intercepts a tipped pass, rookie Austin Ekeler fumbles in the backfield with the Chargers trying to run down the clock. Tashaun Gipson picks up the ball and runs for 35 yards for an apparent touchdown, but officials rule he was touched down after a replay review.
Chargers safety Trevor Williams gets flagged for pass interference, putting the Jaguars in field-goal range. Bortles throws deep to Marqise Lee and a flag flies in the end zone. Lee expects defensive pass interference and does a dance that officials determine is taunting. Plus, no penalty for LA.
"I probably celebrated a little bit too much," Lee said.
"At the end of the day, I'm not changing any type of emotion in this game. That's a fact."
Then Boston picks off Bortles again. Rather than return the ball in an open field, he steps out of bounds and, like Lee, begins celebrating.
"That was one of the dumb things," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "Never seen it before."
LA goes three-and-out as Jacksonville uses its timeouts.
Downfield Jacksonville marches, but it stalls until DE Joey Bosa gets flagged for roughing the passer with 24 seconds remaining. Josh Lambo's 34-yard field forces OT.
In overtime, Jags cornerback A.J. Bouye wrestles a deep pass away from Travis Benjamin and returns the interception to the 2-yard line, but teammate Aaron Colvin gets called for taunting.
Eventually, Lambo nails the winning field goal anyway.
"I'm exhausted right now," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. "I'm shot. I'm shot. ... I'm living and dying on every single play with every call that we have. So after the game is over, I'm shot."
Tennessee also survived even though first-round pick Corey Davis cost it a likely touchdown at the end of a 19-yard catch-and-run play. He lost control of the ball as he reached across the goal line, and while teammate DeMarco Murray caught the ball past the goal line, he was out of bounds. Originally ruled a TD, it was reversed to a touchback on replay review.
"I shouldn't have put my team in that position," Davis said.
No, he shouldn't have.
Chicago had no excuses for drawing seven penalties in the first half, plus three more that were declined. The Bears were coming off a bye and should have been plenty prepared.
"It seems uncharacteristic for us," said QB Mitchell Trubisky, who as a rookie probably doesn't know quite yet what Chicago's traits are. "We were locked in, ready to go, but I guess we weren't just focused at that moment. So we're going to analyze that. We know that's one of our weaknesses right now. I mean, we're only hurting ourselves."
They are also hurting in the Jersey Meadowlands. The Giants now have as many wins as the 49ers — one — after falling at San Francisco in yet another debacle under beleaguered coach Ben McAdoo.
No need to chronicle everything that went wrong yet again for New York. Let cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's comments suffice.
"We got schooled," said Rodgers-Cromartie, who has been suspended once this season by the principal, uh, the coach, for breaking team rules. "I did not see enough relentless play, attitude. You name it, I did not see it. Everything we should have done, I felt we did not do it."
Actually, they did plenty — plenty wrong.
Same for their roommates at MetLife Stadium, the Jets. They were so bad that the Buccaneers, who entered Sunday with a league-low eight sacks, got six of Josh McCown
"You've got to show up every week in this league or you'll get it handed to you," coach Todd Bowles noted. "We didn't show up today."
Mentally or physically.
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