It turns out that Bengals president Mike Brown has something in common with his quarterback-receiver tandem that was born within 18 months of his biggest disappointment in seven decades of pro football.
When Brown gave his annual address to the team Wednesday night welcoming players to training camp, one of the things he spoke of are the two losses in the Super Bowl, particularly the one in January 1989 in the final 34 seconds, still stick with him because of just how close and special it all was.
It wasn't the Super Bowl, but quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green are using last year's numbing 19-13 loss in Houston in the Wild Card playoff to help fuel the current push that started Thursday.
"It still sticks behind me because we played probably the worst game of the season and still had a chance to win at the end," Green said before Thursday's practice. "That was really, that hurt us the most, me in general. We played some of the worst football and still had a chance to win at the end. First year we were hoping to make the playoffs. This past year we went into Houston expecting to win. That's the biggest letdown."
Dalton can understand it. The game that ended when his deep ball went over Green's outstretched hands in the end zone with three minutes left still gnaws.
"I'm sure losing a Super Bowl is different than losing jut a wild-card game," Dalton said. "I can understand it. Shoot, if I lost a Super Bowl like that, I'd never forget about it. Some of the guys I talk to, Ron Jaworski, he still talks about the one he was in that he lost. Those are tough things to remember, but we're going to remember them."
It looks like Green is going to have a few more weeks to sit around and think about it after he wrenched his knee going for a deep ball late in Thursday's practice. He's OK, but the thinking is it's like the hyperextended knee he suffered as a rookie that knocked him out for 10 days.
There is plenty to consider.
"The one we missed I should have dug a little more instead of looking too early on the one we missed in the end zone. It's the little things that stick for me," Green said. "It's in the back of my mind. The interception that Andy threw on the (route over the middle), I could have gotten my head around and I could have caught that, so that's probably my fault."
"Hindsight is 20-20," he said. "There are a lot of things I could have done differently. The line could have. The backs or A.J. Go back and watch the film. At the end, we didn't make the plays. That's what we're working for. A.J.'s the type of player and I think I'm the type of player that when we have the opportunity to make the big plays, we make them."
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth can relate to Brown's regrets and the passion of Dalton and Green.
"Any athlete uses his latest failure as motivation," Whitworth said. "Anytime you get in the dance, whether it's as a wild card or as a favorite because it's been won starting from all positions, it hurts. Anytime you taste an opportunity, there's a sick feeling when you don't get there."
Whitworth listened to Brown's opening speech for the eighth time and he still likes it, believing Brown's thumbnail history of the franchise helps new players acclimate to the team.
"It's always good, especially when you get into the history of the organization," he said. "It lets guys know why this is a special place. It's a family business. I think guys after that feel a little more sense of pride about where they play and realize what a unique place this is."
It was just the third time Dalton heard it and he thinks it's good for the players know "where it all got started."
"He's big on letting everyone know the history. How the organization came about."
Just like the what-ifs of '89, Dalton is mulling the if-onlys of '12.
"Everything that went on in that game, there was a lot of good stuff and there were some things that weren't very good," Dalton said. "It all would have gone away if we had made that throw. We're not sitting here talking about that playoff win, but we're here talking about a loss. It's going to stick with you a little bit."