Updated: 4:25 p.m.
Sunday's sellout went over big in the Bengals locker room before Wednesday's practice. Not only is the game against the Ravens (4:15 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) at Paul Brown Stadium a win-and-in for the playoffs, but it is the second home game the club's New Era plays in front of a full house and local TV after the Bengals offered season ticket holders a buy-one-get-one-free deal.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth says management knows it has something to sell in a young team one win away from going to the playoffs with a rookie quarterback and a core from the last three drafts.
"They just jumped on the back of that saying, 'We do have a good team and we want people to see them. We need to do something to raise the awareness,' " Whitworth said. "It's a great decision."
Defensive tackle Domata Peko, who says a full PBS is as loud as any NFL stadium, is also thinking about those that won't be there but will be watching.
"The only games people have been able to watch us are away games," Peko said. "I'm really happy that people at home get to watch it on TV. They get to see us in action. It's really cool that it's sold out and I'm excited for the city.
"A big thank you to the fans that bought all the tickets to sell us out. Now it's on our shoulders to get this win."
The Baltimore game is a marquee NFL contest this weekend, moved to 4:15 p.m. to reach a wider television audience. The Bengals can not only clinch a playoff spot with a victory, but Baltimore is out to claim a division championship and first-round playoff bye.
"Our fans have made a tremendous response this week to our sales efforts, and we thank the entire community for its support of the Bengals," Katie Blackburn, the team's executive vice-president, said in a press release. "We're pleased that the game will be on television for everyone, and we look forward to the fans at Paul Brown Stadium giving us a great home field advantage for a very important game against Baltimore."
SUGGS NOTICES: Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who could be the third current Raven to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, just can't come to grips with saying the word, "Pittsburgh." How bad does Baltimore want Sunday's game? In each of head coach John Harbaugh's three seasons the Ravens have been a Wild Card team. A win in Cincinnati would give Baltimore that elusive AFC North title. A loss and a Steelers win in Cleveland gives Pittsburgh the crown despite getting swept by the Ravens.
"I don't have a personal vendetta against (the Bengals) to knock them out," Suggs said in his Wednesday conference call with the Cincinnati media. "Those guys have worked hard this year and they've surprised the whole NFL. I would like to knock another team out, but it didn't happen."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Right tackle Andre Smith came up with a big game against the Cardinals after missing the previous two games and is as fit as he's ever been. He's down to about the 320-pound range and says he's not worn down even though Sunday is his 14th game of the season. He played just 13 combined in his first two seasons.
» Safety Taylor Mays sat out Wednesday's practice with a hamstring injury that knocked him out of the Arizona game. Safety Chris Crocker (knee) took his veteran day. Rookie linebacker Dontay Moch, hampered by headaches the past few weeks, sat out and was categorized with "illness." Running back Brian Leonard (knee), who has missed the last three games, was out there going full.
Wide receiver A.J. Green (shoulder), who didn't play against Baltimore last time, and left end Carlos Dunlap (hamstring), who aggravated his hamstring in pregame warmups in Baltimore, were limited Wednesday. So were Whitworth (knee) and defensive lineman Frostee Rucker (neck).
» Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis didn't repeat his Houston week "Biggest game since I've been here" sound bite. In fact, he says he was right because if the Bengals beat Houston three weeks ago they would not only be in the playoffs, "We'd be playing for the division title."
» Former Bengals Pro Bowl safety David Fulcher is going to be at Longworth Hall this Sunday from 8:30 a.m.-noon signing autographs for donations to the David Fulcher MS Foundation. "I've got everything you need," Fulcher said. "Bobbleheads, pennants, 8x10 (photos)."