12-10-04, 4:10 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
It was supposed to be a week of swirling controversy, this Bengals' reunion with their franchise's all-time leading rusher, Corey Dillon, in New England Sunday. But give Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick credit.
Other than a two-month-old film clip of Dillon laughing for eight seconds when asked if the Bengals will ever win, there has been no bulletin-board fodder.
Dillon, who hasn't been talking this week, did do a brief interview with The Providence Journal Thursday when Tom Curran asked about the Bengals' hot wideouts, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson, and told him quarterback Carson Palmer told a conference call that he liked him and got along with him last year.
Dillon told Curran his time in Cincinnati has been misconstrued and that he still cares for a lot of people on the Bengals.
The closest thing to controversy came on this week's "Inside The NFL," on HBO, when Peter King reported that Lewis planned to show his team a clip before the game of an interview he did with Dillon on Oct. 19. King asked Dillon, "Will the Bengals ever win?" and Dillon burst out laughing for eight seconds.
On Friday, Lewis wouldn't confirm he'll show the clip: "It's nobody's business."
Lewis and video director Travis Brammer's staff of Kent Stearman and Marcus Glover have a Saturday night track record on the eve of games. The night before last season's win over the undefeated Chiefs, Lewis showed a clip from the movie "Ali," and the underdog's victory over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston. Last Saturday night in Baltimore, it was "Rocky IV" and another underdog boxer's win over the machine-perfect opponent.
But other than that, it's been quiet.
"This isn't the Bengals vs. Corey Dillon, although it's a big part of the game because he's a great back and we have to stop him if we're going to win," said Bengals linebacker Kevin Hardy. "It's bigger than that. We're going in there against a great team and we're fighting for the playoffs ourselves."
Center Rich Braham blocked for most of Dillon's 8,061 Bengals' yards, and while it was a distant relationship, Braham doesn't hold any resentment toward Dillon and admires his ability.
"Everybody is their own individual. Directly to the offensive line, he didn't say too much," Braham said. "There were a couple of times when he gave up on games that kind of ticked us off, where he just took himself out. But what do you do? He's his own man. . .He just didn't seem happy last year. I guess it kind of turned out for us and for him.
"You don't have to look at CD to get motivation for this game," Braham said. "They're world champs. When you look across the board at that defense, they've got great players."