Positively Gruden, Steelers at Bengals: The Nightmare in Cincy

Welcome to another rendition of “Positively Gruden,” where we chronicle that top cheers, compliments, and commendations from America’s favorite fawning former coach. Last night’s Steelers-Bengals game was about as brutal as they come, even for this heated rivalry. When Steelers LB Ryan Shazier went down in the first quarter with what appeared to be a scary spinal cord injury, the game took on an eerie feeling as we all contemplated why we watch a sport premised on violent collisions.  So did the Steelers, who let the Bengals race out to a 17 point lead.

But football memories are notoriously short, and in the second half, the Steelers predictably roared back, and the two teams remembered why they hated each other—trading a series of cheap shots until the Steelers ended it with a game-winning field goal.

This action didn’t leave much space for the frivolity of Grudenisms, but we still cobbled together a top 15.  As expected, there was a lot of praise heaped on all the weapons of the Steelers offense. But I wasn’t expecting the same for the notorious Vontaze Burfict, who Gruden repeatedly showered praise upon…before he was knocked out of the game.

As always, top Grudenisms are graded on a sliding scale of hyperbole, vivid imagery, and outright absurdity.

15.  On Andy Dalton, “The red rifle has one of the quickest triggers you will see in the shotgun.”

14.  On Joe Mixon, “This man is exciting. Boy, does he look the part. Electrifying talent.”

13.  On JuJu Smith-Schuster, “I get excited watching this man.”

12.  ”When you play one-on-one coverage against A.J. Green, I don’t care who you are, good luck.”

11.  ”Hard to find guys who are much better than Marvin Lewis.” (At what? Coaching?)

10.  “Mike Tomlin, one of the great leaders I know.”

9.  To McDonough, after he complained about the officiating, “I never liked you more as a friend, Sean.”

8.  “You can you question anything you want about Ben Roethlisberger, but do not ever question his toughness.”

7.  On Le’Veon Bell, “That’s why I think he’s the best in football. Same foot, same shoulder, and he PUNISHES Dre Kirkpatrick. His best stuff comes late in games. What a run.

6.  On the Steelers offense, “They just have so many weapons. Great runner, arsenal of receivers, a strong offensive line, and a quarterback that’s incredible.”

5.  On Vontaze Burfict, after he drew a personal foul and didn’t retaliate, “That’s the sign of a pro.” (Yep, he’s the consummate professional.)

4.  More Burfict, “I’d pay season tickets to see this man play. He loves to compete, he has a nose for the football, and he hits you like a CINDER BLOCK.”

3.  And one more Burfict, “If it’s wiggling he’s hitting it, believe me. Heart soul of the Bengals.”

2.  “Antonio Brown, as good as I’ve ever seen.”

1.  More Brown, “Try making that catch at home. Sideline drills, one handed catches, he could be in the circus.”