The Cincinnati Bengals want to prove they are Super Bowl contenders. Rey Maualuga wants to reward his team for having faith in him as a starting-caliber linebacker.
Both efforts got off to a tough start on Sunday.
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The Bengals controlled the action for much of the game in Chicago in Week 1, but the Bears rallied with two second-half touchdown drives to take the lead with just over eight minutes remaining.
After a Bengals punt, the Bears tried to grind down the clock, but the Bengals had an outside chance of getting the ball back and going for the win. Bears running back Michael Bush was stopped for one yard on 3rd-and-6, and the Bengals would have gotten the ball with about 15 seconds left, deep in their zone ...
Had Maualuga not committed a ridiculous unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — away from the play, no less — allowing the Bears to run out the clock because the Bengals were out of timeouts. If only the "Hard Knocks" crew had stuck around for this game.
The Bengals might be a very talented team, but they first have to be smarter.