'Game' Bengals look to end slide

11-20-01, 6:00 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

On Sunday, Willie Anderson talked about making the sixth-month commitment.

On Monday, Takeo Spikes talked about an extra 30 minutes of work a day with tape study or in the workout room.

On Tuesday, Corey Dillon took it to heart.

Dillon, seeking to improve the work environment, said he went to head coach Dick LeBeau on the club's off day and told him he'd like to see video games taken out of the players' lounge. Or at least have their use limited.

"And you won't find a bigger video game fanatic than me," Dillon said. "But I can play them at home. During lunch, we can eat, get treatment, look at the playbook, watch film, whatever. I just think we've got to tighten it up. The season started out so bright and the sun hasn't set yet. But evening is here and we don't have much time left."

Meanwhile, quarterback Jon Kitna emerged from Sunday's three-turnover second half convinced he can help the Bengals get back on track by playing smarter.

"We're finding out talent alone won't get us by," Kitna said. "It goes back to technique. The thing for me, is, if I can do just what I can do, and don't start pressing in the second half, don't try to carry the team, we're probably going to be OK. We'll have a chance in the fourth quarter to win. . . .It's the mindset of after a turnover. I'm not sure we're ready to handle that yet."

Different players are handling the slump in different ways as the Bengals grapple with a two-game losing streak that has extended a slide to five losses in the last seven games.

Dillon offers the Bengals' locker room version of Nixon and China. The only American president who could have gone to China in the '70s was the fierce red-baiter of the '50s. Here is Dillon, maybe the most ardent video player on the team, saying he's ready to cut the cables himself so the team can be more focused on the little things.

It got back to what Spikes said Monday as some veterans think the

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hunger and focus of the 2-0 start is gone and some of the locker-room levity is eating away at the professionalism.

"We have to act like bigger (jerks) to ourselves more than the coaches would," Spikes said. "More self-critical. . . A lot of people say, 'I leave the job when l leave here.' I think if you want to be great at something, you have to take it home with you at some point in time. You've got to take it home with you."

Kitna has stayed away from the issue of work habits. Instead, as the last player to leave Paul Brown Stadium Monday, he went home virtually jaunty because, "I saw a lot of things that show why we can be so good. This is the most excited I've been about what we can do here."

Kitna still blamed himself for the offense getting shut out for the second straight second half, which started when his first pass into the teeth of a deep zone for wide receiver Darnay Scott, got intercepted by cornerback Samari Rolle.

"I was pressing too much," Kitna said. "I wanted a big play. Something to spark the team. It would have been better served if I just hit Corey for five, six (yards) and maybe he breaks a tackle for 10, 15. Now we're at mid-field, the team is rolling a little bit. I'm never one to shy away from when I know I did something to hurt the team, I accept full responsibility."

Which is what Spikes is looking for team wide.

"Take it upon yourself to take (an extra) 30 minutes out of your day," Spikes said. "If you can't do that, something is wrong."

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