Posted: 11:05 p.m.
If Obama had Carson Palmer and Andrew Whitworth, the 2016 Olympics would be in Chicago. The two offensive captains put a pretty good lobby job in front of head coach Marvin Lewis on Sunday on why the Bengals should go for it on fourth-and-11 from the Browns 41 with 1:04 left in overtime.
Palmer had the biggest voice but Whitworth, the left tackle, may have had the most fire. After it was over and the Bengals were 2-0 in the division and tied for first in the AFC North with Baltimore at 3-1, he may have summed up best in what this team has done in the first four games. In three of them, their offense came from behind in the last two minutes and in the other one the defense staved off a last-minute rally inside the Bengals 15.
No rest for the weary.
?Trust me. I was lobbying. We were all lobbying,? Whitworth said. ?This is a half-full football team. We want to win games. We believe we can win anything, overcome anything. That?s what we?re trying to make our mentality.?
Whitworth isn?t sure if Lewis just changed his mind or if he saw the determination etched on their faces.
?I think he signifies what we?ve been about,? Whitworth said. ?We?re going for the wins. We?re going to try and win every game ... I was pleading, just pleading. Most football teams having success say, ?Let?s go for the tie.? You?re going to pin them back and you know you?re not going to lose the game. Or you can say we came here to get a victory on the road in the NFL. Let?s go for it. We were pleading let?s go for the win. If we get the loss, we deserve it.?
Whitworth felt the circumstances leading up to his unnecessary roughness penalty early in the fourth quarter reflects his team?s emerging take-no-guff mindset. On a third-and-seven from the Bengals 13, Palmer underthrew Chris Henry deep for an incompletion.
After the play, Whitworth approached an official and told him Browns linebacker Alex Hall hit him late.
?The ref said he went to the next play, he didn?t see it,? Whitworth said. ?It was bad, real bad. Then I looked up (downfield) and saw AC (right tackle Anthony Collins) in a little skirmish so I went running up there to see what was going on. They were pushing on him so I pulled one guy off and (Hall) was there and grabbed him and I just told him there?s no place in the NFL for a shot like that.?
It brought the flag, but Whitworth also thinks it sent a message.
?That?s the kind of team we are,? Whitworth said. ?We don?t back down from anybody.?
Lewis likes the concept but not the penalties and he said in his postgame news conference he?ll focus this week on not getting his players to retaliate. Late in the third quarter defensive tackle Pat Sims traded punches with Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards and they got offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
?I think our guys lost our poise a little bit there in the third quarter for whatever reason and we can?t do that. We had some guys retaliating back and that?s the thing we are going to focus on more than anything,? Lewis said. ?We have some good strong leaders and they need to stay poised through the entire game.
?I?m glad we got out of here with the victory, but we have a lot of work to do in that area. We were lucky today. They ended up offsetting the penalties. They could have been called on us, or they could have been called on them. We thought we got hit illegally and we?re going to retaliate; we can?t do that.?