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Notes: Bengals-Giants blacked out; Nelson out again; Fourth quarter challenge; Giants aim at Green

Posted Nov 8, 2012


Reggie Nelson

Updated: 8:25 p.m.

The Bengals five-game sellout streak ended Thursday when the club announced Sunday's 1 p.m. game at Paul Brown Stadium against the Super Bowl champion Giants didn't sell out. The game won't be seen on local TV but can be heard on the "triplecast" at WLW-AM 700, ESPN-1530 and WEBN-FM 102.7.

Tickets can be purchased at the Bengals Ticket Hotline by calling 513-621-8383 (also toll free at 1-866-621-8383), or by clicking here. Additionally, the Paul Brown Stadium ticket office will be open until 5 p.m. Thursday, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday, the Paul Brown Stadium north ticket office will open at 9 a.m.

In conjunction with Veterans Day commemorations across the nation, the Bengals on Sunday will present a number of “Salute to Service” activities, including crowd participation in a stadium-wide card stunt.

INJURY UPDATE: Safety Reggie Nelson (hamstring) and wide receiver Marvin Jones (knee) didn't practice Thursday. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness) and centers Jeff Faine (hamstring) and Trevor Robinson (hamstring) were back on the field. Green-Ellis was full go while Faine and Robinson were limited. Also limited and new to the report were cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (thigh) and linebacker Dan Skuta (thumb). Cornerback Terence Newman (hamstring) was back full and safety Taylor Mays (knee) was limited.

The Giants had four regulars back to practice Thursday in limited fashion: Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (knee), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), middle linebacker Chase Blackburn (hamstring), and defensive tackle Chris Canty (groin). The only starter that didn't practice was right guard Chris Snee (ankle).

FOURTH QUARTER CHALLENGE: The Bengals need a win, any win. They haven't played confidently enough while losing three fourth-quarter leads in their four-game losing streak and have extended their losing streak to teams with winning records to seven when they went to 0-1 for the season last week against Denver.

Meanwhile, when the Bengals play the Super Bowl champion Giants this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium in a 1 p.m. game, they play their psychological opposites. The champs ooze confidence down the stretch, winning seven games in the fourth quarter last season and then moving on to coldly cut out the hearts of the 49ers and Patriots in the same fashion in winning the NFC title and Super Bowl, respectively.

The Giants play like they expect to win. In the last month, the Bengals have played like they expect a battle to win. Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning already has three fourth-quarter comebacks this season and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is trying to find his first one in nearly a year and Cincinnati's first win over a winning team in 371 days.

Since getting off to a 5-0 start against teams with a winning record in 2009, the Bengals are 4-19 against winners and haven't beaten once since last year's Nov. 6 win in Tennessee over the 4-3 Titans. The last win at home over a winning team was Oct. 2, 2011 over the undefeated Bills.

Last week against the Broncos, the Bengals couldn't hold a fourth-quarter lead and couldn't get it back with five penalties in the last 11:59.

“It’s obvious that if you do it a couple of times and have success, it becomes a confidence thing," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said in his conference call with the Cincinnati media this week. "When the guys step into the huddle, they believe it’s going to happen. That’s the objective. It starts with your quarterback playing very well. A year ago, we had seven come-from-behind, fourth-quarter wins, including the Super Bowl. That’ll do it for you. That’s what I say: We’ve become accustomed to those last-second drives."

It's a topic that doesn't sit particularly well with left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

"What is expecting to win?" Whitworth asked this week. "Even though we may not have been the best, we can on the last play or the last drive or the last possession, the next possession we expect that we are going to go score a touchdown. You've got to create that attitude. Guys got to have the put-away thing. Stop looking for someone to blame or whose fault or this or that and start worrying about winning football games."

Whitworth isn't pleased with the club's reaction to the losing streak and didn't leave anybody out, including head coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

"It seems like every week we're trying to say this person needs to do this or that person needs to do that. What we need to happen is we need to go win a football game. I hear Marvin and Jay and all these people try to point to people needing to go do things and we just need to win a game," Whitworth said.

"Win a game and stop worrying about who we're trying to say needs to do something, and start worrying about the team going out and putting out a complete game together. If we're going to score, go score a touchdown. Defensively make the stop and offensively put the game away in a four-minute (drill) and it will be a won game and we don't have to worry about whose fault it wasn't."

Sunday's fourth quarter against Denver was a tough one for Whitworth, particularly the series after the Broncos took the lead at 24-20. Whitworth had a hold and a false start while center Jeff Faine also had a hold that set up Dalton's interception on third-and-25.

"We don't need to point fingers. We need to make plays when we need to make them and win the football game. That will be what will make us successful or not," he said. "Go win games, go make plays. That's what I am saying. You can always find someone to try and push and say, 'Hey this one play dictated the game.' But the truth is you can go make the next play a big play and win the game yourself. That's what the Giants have been able to do is push away the critics. They win the Super Bowl with 'Maybe we are not the best rushing team, maybe we are not the most effective team, but when it is time to make a big play we make it.' That is how you play winning football."

Lewis says the Bengals don't need Whitworth to be a psychologist right now. Or anything else.

"No proctologist here," he said with a laugh on Tuesday. "Or orthodontist. I’m keeping all my doctors hats in reserve.

"Our guys are where they need to be, doing what they need to do. We’ve just got to do it repetitively. We are seeing it on Sunday, but just not repetitive enough and in critical moments. We've got to make critical plays at critical moments and finish these games out."

Combined, Eli and brother Peyton now have 71 fourth-quarter comebacks. This is where DNA stands for Do Not Anticipate the outcome.

“It’s a great job by our team of understanding the circumstances and rising to the occasion," Eli said in his conference call with the Cincinnati media. "Sometimes you know there’s no more time to be patient or conservative. It is all out in that situation. If you can avoid being down in the fourth, you try to do that. And if you are, you get excited for it because it comes down to winning a football game.”

But nothing on the campus of Coughlin Tech is by accident. The two Super Bowl titles have come courtesy of a series of precise engineering feats of the fundamentals.

"You comment on it, you talk about it all the time, you go over the rules, you talk about how efficient you have to be in that situation," Coughlin said. "You can’t have penalties. You can’t have holding calls. The ball has to be advanced down the field. You have to be up-tempo. You’ve got to hand the ball to the official. All these things you have to do in order to have that circumstance. You work about it, you talk about it, and for us it’s been a very good situational part of our team. We work at it hard in training camp; we work at it hard every week."

REBOUND WEEK: It hasn't been a holiday for the Bengals special teams in the wake of Trindon Holiday's 105-yard kick return that stands as the longest play ever against Cincinnati along with Mercury Morris's 105-yard return 43 years before. The only good thing that came out of the week is that Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons was informed by the NFL that the offsides call during another kickoff on Kirkpatrick shouldn't have been made. But Simmons says the lesson for Kirkpatrick is "don't make it that close."

The Bengals were a top 10 team covering kicks last season, but this year they are 29th and while Simmons thinks some of it might be the presence of four rookies, he doesn't use that as an excuse.

"I think we faced a hell of a bunch of good kick returners a bunch of weeks in a row. But no, I can't put my finger on it," he said after Thursday's practice. "I looked at it, I studied it hard through the bye. We came up with a couple little things we tried to simplify and make things simpler than what we had been doing. Simpler reads, simpler positions that we were in. We still didn’t make the play. Just a matter of getting a couple of these young guys better and a couple of our veteran players need to make more plays."

The 105-yarder was simple in the sense that Holiday took advantage of the Bengals overplaying the coverage.

"It was a bounce play," Simmons said. "He was trying to get to their sideline, he was trying to get to the boundary and we overplayed it. We read it and overplayed it and he cut it up behind us. It ended up in the middle of the field, yes, but it was not a middle return. It was a bounce right, they were trying to bounce it to their boundary and like I said we overplayed it. We had opportunities to make the play; we just didn’t make the play."

GIANTS AIM AT GREEN: Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who has never said anything close to controversial in his career, was taken by surprise when told his comments on a New York radio station have received attention. ProFootballTalk is reporting that Green said of the Giants, "I feel like they've got a lot of holes in their defense." PFT reported Giants safety Antrel Rolle responded with, "I'll talk with my pads," and that Green "better duck" if he sees him. Green had no comment.

 

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