Thankful for Steelers Exit, Bengals Fans Are Donating to Blake Bortles' Charity

Daniel Rapaport
Sports Illustrated

Shortly after Andy Dalton's 49-yard fourth quarter touchdown pass beat the Ravens and sent the Bills to the playoffs, thankful Bills fans started donating to Dalton's charity en masse. When all was said and done, they'd donated more than $300,000 in what turned out to be one of the best thank yous in recent memory.

Now, Bengals fans are playing it forward. Their team didn't make the playoffs but they took apparently took pleasure in the Jaguars' 45-42 upset of the Steelers in the AFC Divisional Round, because they've started to donate to Bortles' charity. According to the Blake Bortles Foundation, which serves the Jacksonville and Oviedo communities, more than 100 donors have given more than $3,000.

The Bengals and Steelers are longtime AFC North rivals and have played some of the most contentious games in the NFL over the past few seasons.

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"Fans are at the core of the football experience and it's truly exciting and rewarding when they band together, regardless of the team they cheer for, to make a positive impact in the lives of others," Bortles said in a statement. "I greatly appreciate the support displayed by Bengals fans and they should know their support will make a difference."

Bortles, who has been criticized heavily for his uneven play this season, went 14-26 for 214 yards and touchdown, and perhaps most importantly he did not turn the ball over. His reward for knocking off the Steelers is a trip to Foxborough to face the Patriots, who are making their seventh consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship Game.

If Bortles can engineer another huge upset, don't be surprised if Jets fans start donating. And Dolphins fans. Maybe Bills fans to. Oh, and don't forget Giants fans. This could be a lucrative Sunday for the Blake Bortles Foundation.

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