Not think­ing of­ten means not win­ning in pro sports

The Sentinel-Record - - SPORTS - BARRY WILNER

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 nothought 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.

Prob­a­bly?

“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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