CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 8: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass while being defended by Tre'Davious White #27 of the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Sports Today: Curious inspirations keying Bengals turnaround

Late ‘90s rock and lessons from competitive juggling have played important roles in the Cincinnati Bengals’ two-game winning streak. 

No, really. 

A.J. Green got over his turnover blues Sunday by remembering lessons from his days as a member of the elementary school juggling team. 

No, seriously. 

When he was a second grader at Beech Hill Elementary School in Summerville, S.C., Green showed an extraordinary talent for juggling.

He’d started with scarves and tennis balls and soon was performing with anything he could lay his hands on – oranges, apples, even ink pens.

He soon was on the school juggling team which was filled with older kids and there were times early on when the nerves got to him and he dropped some items. The coach back then, Anne O’Sullivan, gave him advice that paraphrased again Sunday.

“Sure I dropped plenty of stuff back then,” he said. “But I learned you can’t go in the tank when something doesn’t go your way. Every day is not going to be a great day. You hang in there. You focus and remember how good you are.”

The superstar receiver bounced back from his role in three turnovers to make a big catch to set up the game-winning touchdown against Buffalo. 

We also learned the Bengals trace some of the ferocity of their pass rush to one of the one-hit wonders of the late 20th century. 

“One time (defensive coordinator) Paul Guenther played this song for us,” safety George Iloka said before singing “Closing Time” by Semisonic.

“He said, ‘I need closers,’” Iloka continue. “As a defense you want to be like, ‘We want to close out the game.’ That’s just the way league is. The games are always close, within a touchdown or a field goal, so you have to take it as a defense and want to close it out.”

Semisonic was no Goo Goo Dolls, but whatever works I guess… 

Meanwhile, the 2018 Reds couldn’t even wait until 2018 to have a pitching injury. 

Rookie Davis, who was a revelation in the spring but couldn’t carry it over to the regular season in the big leagues, had hip surgery Monday and probably won’t be available at the start of next season. 

The good news here is Davis would not have been at the top of the list of rotation candidates, but if the last two years have taught us anything, it is you can never have too many arms available. 

Like literally never. 

That’s how you end up with 16 different players making a start in one season and a third straight last-place finish. 

Who are your favorites to fill out the rotation to start next season? 

I am going with Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano, Homer Bailey and Robert Stephenson with Anthony DeSclafani a wild card if his arm is right…  

Former Reds continue doing things in the MLB playoffs. 

Todd Frazier had a hit, a walk, an RBI and scored twice as the Yankees beat the Indians in Game 4 of their series Monday night. 

Didi Gregorius was 0 for 2 but walked three times. 

Jay Bruce was on base twice for the Indians and scored a run. 

Aroldis Chapman warmed up but did not pitch for the Yankees, who were fortunate not to have to use him based on some of the swings the Indians got against him in the ninth Sunday night… 

Ohio State football is going to have to do something it rarely has in recent seasons: Replace a starter on the offensive line

Matt Burrell got the first crack Sunday. Malcolm Pridgeon and Demetrius Knox could get a shot, too. 

No matter who is in there, I still want to see this group line up and knock people around more than they have so far. 

The regular ol’ running game hasn’t gotten much attention lately thanks to the struggles and rebirth of the passing game, but you know the day is coming they will need to lean on those talented backs… 

Lastly, we got a chance to talk to Dayton coach Anthony Grant and a couple of his players yesterday. 

Grant talked about what he’s brought from the NBA to the Flyers, progress of some of his young players and the recruiting scandal that has rocked the NCAA over the past couple of weeks

“I’ve always tried to govern myself by standards that I would want everybody on our staff to govern themselves by. That’s what’s expected. I can’t sit here and judge the situations that somebody else is in, other than to say it’s sad and unfortunate to read what you hear about (a game) I’ve been involved with for 25-30 years. It’s disappointing as a profession to see the outcomes we had a couple weeks ago. We’ll have to wait and see where it goes from there.”

Like track and field or cycling, I’m not sure this sport will ever be “clean,” but it will be interesting to see what the fallout is both in the short and long term. 

I am still wondering if we’ll see multiple power programs crippled this season as things continue to come out. 

That could make for an even more interesting NCAA tournament than usual. 

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