During his preparation for Saturday's Wild Card Game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Houston, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis took a break Monday to take questions from the Cincinnati media on a conference call.
You go back a year ago -- same matchup, same day -- you have the tape of that game. How much does last year's game figure into how you get ready for this year's matchup?
ML: "That's last year and this is this year. The urgency of the playoffs are what they are. We need to go down there and win the football game. We did some good things in the game last year, but not enough and not long enough, and we got beat. It was a closer football game at halftime, and we had the negative play on offense, and from that point we kind of got out-distanced."
Not just the same opponent as last year, but having basically the same road trip, same venue, same routine…is that going to help your team in any way?
ML: "I don't think that has anything to do with it. The difference is we know the atmosphere from when we went down there last year. To be on the road – the first time we had a playoff game on the road for any of the people here – and I think we've got 15 new guys, and so 38 guys that are on the 53-man roster I think were there last year."
With the noise factor and everything that you encountered there last year, will that go into any thought about maybe practicing at UC this week?
ML: "We'll practice where we need to practice. We don't need to practice inside to simulate noise. We simulate noise each week here."
How do the Texans compare to the team they had last year?
ML: "They have a great running game, led by (Arian) Foster. The quarterback (Matt Schaub) is back and playing this year. We didn't face him last year. They've got a great receiver in Andre Johnson. The tight end (Owen Daniels) is a very productive player. They spread the ball around to their offensive guys. Defensively, they're still led by (J.J.) Watt. Johnathan Joseph has had another very good year. They're not the same on the interior of their defense at linebacker -- they lost (Brian) Cushing to injury early in the year. Otherwise, the upfront guys are basically still the same guys. They don't have the same returner they had last year in Jacoby Jones. They return most of their football team."
Looking back to last year's game, do you think it was Watt's play (INT for a TD) that kind of turned the game around? It was such a unique, unorthodox play:
ML: "Well, there were a lot of plays after that play that mattered, but that was a big play for them. We had some momentum going and an opportunity to score right before halftime. Any time you have a chance to score points and you give up points the other way, that swing stings a little bit. But there was a lot of football left to play and we didn't overcome it and we never got back in it."
Matt Schaub didn't play in last year's playoff game. Tell us about what you see in him:
ML: "He's been a productive guy. He's got great vision, great height and obviously he has a great command of the offense."
Your team seems to have more postseason experience this trip, even though it's only a year older. Some of the veterans you picked up, they've had (postseason) games, too, so you're probably a lot more experienced than you were last year:
ML: "Some of the core offensive skill players played in the game last year. We've got a tight end (Orson Charles) and receiver (Marvin Jones) who didn't, and an offensive guard (Kevin Zeitler) and center (Trevor Robinson) who didn't, but for the most part offensively, we're in a little better shape that way. Defensively, we have a couple linebackers (Vontaze Burfict and Emmanuel Lamur) who didn't, but most everybody else was here to play in the game, so you're right in that aspect."
You've won seven of eight going into the playoffs and the Texans are struggling. How big is momentum coming into the postseason?
ML: "Momentum finished yesterday. It's what you do now that counts. We get no points for what we did at the end of the season. We earned a spot to go into this and we're one of 12 teams now. We have to go back and get ready to go. We've got to play better than we played and we have to have the sense of urgency, the sense to finish, the resiliency that we've had throughout the second half of the year. That's the only thing we have. We have some experience, but you get no points for momentum, nor are we going to subtract any from the Texans. They played the end of their season the way that they felt was best for them. They earned the right to do that by what they had done earlier in the year."
How much will you use the experience of the disappointment in the locker room last year in Houston to impress on the guys this week?
ML: "I don't have to use any of it. The guys remember and that's why they've fought the way they've fought this year. Any professional that does anything remembers their last experience and that's been there throughout the start of our season this year. You're not going to keep squeezing more blood out of that turnip."
Any advantage or disadvantage facing a team that you didn't face during the regular season?
ML: "Not that I know of. We're going to go play the Houston Texans. They have to play the Cincinnati Bengals. We're coming to Houston. We're coming in there to win. That's what this is all about."