Posted: 11:15 a.m.
The subject is adversity, something that the Bengals defense now faces in droves with the loss of Antwan Odom, the knee injury to Domata Peko, and the tape of the Texans' 472-yard assault in Sunday's 28-17 loss.
"We're professional athletes who deal with adversity and whatever that adversity might be you still have to press on," said middle linebacker Dhani Jones as he pondered the question of whether the Bengals had been sapped of their emotions this week. "It's something you have to learn with and press on. We'll see how we respond after the loss and in practice."
Which is what the Bengals must do without Odom, the right end that came into Sunday's game as the NFL sack leader. Jonathan Fanene got most of the work there Sunday and had a sack, but the injury should also ramp up the snaps for rookie end Michael Johnson. With Peko down and Frostee Rucker inactive, Pat Sims and Tank Johnson filled the snaps as Tank Johnson continues to battle with his own plantar fasciitis problem.
"You hate to see a guy carted off the field. Any time that happens it's not good," Tank Johnson said. "But you have to refocus. I have to do Peko's job. Somebody has to do Antwan's job. ... It stinks, but you have to move on.
There was also the manner of play, which wasn't as crisp or as fast as it's been. Safety Chris Crocker said it was a wakeup call. He may have meant his defense or his team, but his unit that carried this team in the first five games was definitely looking for a hand after allowing the most yards it has allowed in the 22 games under coordinator Mike Zimmer.
The culprit wasn't so much the big play to Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson considering that 59 of his 135 yards came on a screen pass on Houston's first play. It was that stuff in the nooks and crannies of the combined 180 yards caught by running back Steve Slaton (102) and tight end Own Daniels (78) for three touchdowns. Slaton popped another screen pass for what was basically a 38-yard touchdown run as left tackle Duane Brown got out in front and took Crocker out with the other safety, Chinedum Ndukwe, trying to catch up and no one else in the picture.
"They beat us in all phases; they made plays," said Crocker, who thought the tackling in the second half was the worst of the season. "I just think guys have to retrace and we've got to run it down. It got turned back in, but guys have to keep running. Just minimize the catch. This game was more a wakeup call where we focus now and we'll go back to the drawing board and be ready when Chicago comes in here."
Head coach Marvin Lewis also talked about his team's inability to deal with the checkdown passes as far as staying in their lanes and making the tackle and WILL linebacker Keith Rivers talked about the missed tackles. The Bengals usually attack the tight end with a combination of safeties and linebackers with the burden falling much of the time to the safeties.
"We made mistakes, myself included. It cost us," Rivers said. "Missed tackles. They broke some tackles. They've got some speedy guys and they were able to get down and make some plays and we didn't."
Rivers said the defense was ready for the screen even when it arrived on the first play because it is a big part of Houston's offense.
"It's always a matter of tackling," Jones said. "It's always a matter of getting to the ball and getting the ball carrier to the ground and prevent the big play and we didn't do it."