With the Bengals on an all-out blitz to sell out Sunday's 4:15 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium season finale, players were excited at the possibility of a homefield advantage waiting for the Ravens on New Year's Day.
The club's buy-one-get-one free offer to season ticket holders made in the wake of Saturday's 23-16 victory over Arizona that set up a win-and-in playoff scenario against the Ravens drew long lines at the stadium Monday. About 2,000 tickets had been moved in the morning and the news had the players dreaming of a sold-out New Year's Day.
"It really does make a difference to the defense, especially on third down. The offense can't get off on the snap count," said left end Robert Geathers, the dean of the Cincinnati defense that played in most of the 57 straight sellouts before the streak ended last season. "I've seen both sides of it. I've never seen it like it has been the last couple of weeks, but the people that were here on Saturday were great."
PBS has sold out just once this season and last Saturday's stay-alive win was viewed by one of the smallest crowds in the 12 seasons of the facility: 41,273. Geathers agrees that the most electric he ever felt it was for another Ravens game, the 2007 season opener on a Monday night in which a Bengals goal-line stand staved off Baltimore, 27-20, in the din of 66,093.
It just so happened Geathers ruled the roost that night, making a play in every defensive category with a 30-yard interception return, a sack, a pass defensed, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
"I felt it. The place was loud and it makes it tough on those guys on offense," he said. "They have to go on a silent count and someone is going to screw up. The energy they bring is big. You know there are going to be ups and downs during a game."
Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga senses the fans are into it.
"How great they did last weekend with all the noise and how involved they were in the game," he said. "We want to take that next step and win this game and make it to the playoffs. We want the whole city of Cincinnati to be there with us and watch us win this game and get to that next level. It's huge."
Maualuga says he's going to help fill the stadium the best way he can.
"I think they did the right thing for buying one and getting one free. Hopefully we get all the seats sold for this game. It will be a nice one. It will be rocking," he said. "I'm going to make sure I get what I can. Get some tickets. Go on Twitter. Start playing with it a little bit. Giving away some tickets. People that need it, people that want it.
"(A full stadium) helps us. It helps the momentum. It helps distracting their offense on the field and it plays a big role and a big part in being together and being one with this organization."
The Bengals have until 4:15 p.m. Thursday to sell out so the game can be televised locally on Cincinnati's Local 12. If they're close, the NFL usually extends a 24-hour window.
"Please fill the stadium," Geathers said. "I'd love to have another game like that."
The Bengals say they are evaluating the situation through the week as they mull the possibility of extending some kind of offer to the general public.