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Cincinnati Bengals’ season may be on line during Monday Night Football

November 8, 2010

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— Things are so bad for the defending AFC North champions that they’re not even sure how to describe their dire predicament.

The Bengals (2-5) are one loss away from another lost season.

“If there’s any salvageability — if that’s a word — then this Monday night is where we need to start,” receiver Terrell Owens said.

Yes, it is a word. And yes, it is that bad. The team that ran the table in the division last season — 6-0 for the first time in Bengals history — will be down for the count if it loses to the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2), who have a chance to make it a two-team race tonight at Paul Brown Stadium.

First, they can elbow the defending champs out of the way. Then, they can spend the second half of the season trying to break that first-place tie with the Baltimore Ravens.

“We know we basically owe them one,” receiver Antwaan Randle El said. “They came out and swept us last year.”

In Cincinnati, last year already seems like eons ago.

The Bengals’ decision to beef up their passing game by signing Owens and drafting tight end Jermaine Gresham and slot receiver Jordan Shipley has improved the statistics but not the record. The Bengals do a much better job throwing the ball this year, but somehow it all doesn’t fit together.

Instead of another title run, the Bengals are back to the dark days. It’s the 14th time in the last 20 years they’ve gotten off to such a poor start.

The Bengals swept the series last season by winning 23-20 in Cincinnati and 18-12 in Pittsburgh, rallying in the second half both times.

A victory would give the Bengals three straight triumphs over the Steelers, something they haven’t done since 1989-90 under coach Sam Wyche.

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