Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is banking on more playoff experience meaning his team doesn't have to be a prisoner of experience. So he figures he doesn't have to say a word about last year's same-Bat-Time-Same-Bat-Channel matchup with the Texans on Saturday (4:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5) in Houston.
A total of two-thirds of the 53-player roster (36) enters the Houston game with NFL playoff experience. That’s eight more than last year, so Lewis doesn't think he has to go rah-rah over last year's 31-10 loss at Reliant Stadium.
“I don’t have to use any of it," Lewis said Monday. "The guys remember and that’s why they’ve fought the way they’ve fought this year. Any professional that does anything remembers their last experience and that’s been there throughout the start of our season this year. You’re not going to keep squeezing more blood out of that turnip.”
Lewis took a break from his preparation Monday to speak briefly via conference call with reporters that cover the club, where last year was a popular topic. As every Cincinnati school kid knows, the game changed when Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt plucked an
"There were a lot of plays after that play that mattered, but that was a big play for them," Lewis said. "We had some momentum going and an opportunity to score right before halftime. Any time you have a chance to score points and you give up points the other way, that swing stings a little bit. But there was a lot of football left to play and we didn’t overcome it and we never got back in it.”
A lot of that was because the Texans raced 5.4 yards per their 35 carries. The postcard Bengaldom took into the offseason was of running back Arian Foster stiffarming the secondary for a 42-yard touchdown run with 5:15 left for the final score. Safety
Crocker, with a knee injury, and middle linebacker
And the corners? The Bengals allowed just two TD passes in December and haven't allowed one longer than 27 yards since Oct. 14, a huge key against a Texans offense that lives off big throws to Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson, like the 40-yard touchdown he got against the Bengals in last year's Wild Card game.
But Crocker, who may be dinged again with a quad injury that took him out of Sunday's win against the Ravens in the first quarter, is starting from scratch and isn't thinking about last January.
"I'd rather not even say. I'd like to keep it to myself and let it play out," Crocker said after Sunday's game. "I don't want to make this week about how we're so much a different team than last year, whatever. Let's just play. Let's not really talk. For me, that's how I'm approaching this game. It wasn't nice. I'm not trying to re-live it until you just brought it up. It's one of those things; I didn't have my best day. That's 360 and some days ago."
Crocker, one of 15 Bengals active in three of the last four postseason runs, is also one of 34 players with the team last year in Houston. And you can add cornerback
“Some of the core offensive skill players played in the game last year. We’ve got a tight end (
And on defense, except for WILL rookie backer
Experience or no experience, a sure sign that the 4-1 December has vanished is that Lewis is no longer talking about momentum.
“Momentum finished yesterday. It’s what you do now that counts. We get no points for what we did at the end of the season," Lewis said. "We earned a spot to go into this and we’re one of 12 teams now. We have to go back and get ready to go. We’ve got to play better than we played and we have to have the sense of urgency, the sense to finish, the resiliency that we’ve had throughout the second half of the year. That’s the only thing we have."
Four starters haven't taken a playoff snap, second-year left guard