Yes, Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther wanted Sunday's shutout badly and he got it when his unit finished off the game as opposed to the Sunday before when they allowed more than 200 yards in the fourth quarter.
"I was on their butt. I said we need one more drive. I want to keep them off the board," Guenther said. "It's just a mindset our guys have to have. I told them regardless of the situation when we are up by 20, down by 20, ball is on the 5-yard line, minus-5, we have to go play good defense all the time regardless of the situation."
Guenther says the tradition under head coach Marvin Lewis is that everyone on defense gets a game ball because a shutout is so rare. There have only been two under Lewis and both have been in December in Cleveland six years apart. The only guys to play in both shutouts are Hall, who had three picks that day, and nose tackle Domata Peko. Defensive lineman Robert Geathers was on injured reserve back on Dec. 21, 2008.
OLD COLLEGE TRY: Guenther watched Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel play his two worst games in college for Texas A&M and he employed elements of what LSU and Missouri did to the Aggies in Sunday's game plan for Manziel's first NFL start.
So the Bengals kept him in the pocket and make sure he didn't move to his left.
"They kind of moved him one side and kept him in the pocket. Those were his worst two games in college, so you could see obviously what their plan was, to keep him in the pocket or move him to a side where he wasn't throwing," Guenther said Monday. "You had to go look at all of the resources of everything to try to get a feel for this guy. So I showed the players throughout the week, particularly Saturday night, those plays, his preseason plays and his plays against Buffalo."
DRE'S WORK: With cornerbacks Terence Newman (ankle) out and Adam Jones (chest) limited, Dre Kirkpatrick played 90 percent of the snaps Sunday, his most since he played 95 percent of them in last January's AFC Wild Card Game that Newman and Leon Hall both missed. Kirkpatrick made Manziel pay for being late and inaccurate on a sideline route with his first interception of the season. But it Guenther said it wasn't a promotion.
"Adam was a little sore going into the game," Guenther said. "We weren't sure if we were going to have him either. He only practiced on Friday, so we weren't sure if we were going to have either him or Terence. We kind of had it prepared that way and it worked out pretty good.
"(Kirkpatrick) was good. We weren't sure if Terence was going to go or not, obviously he wasn't up to it but he went in there and played good. He's got to clean up a couple of things in the running game but other than that I thought he covered well."
PEYTON PLACE: Now the Bengals go from Manziel's first NFL start to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's 255th. And that puts Guenther in an odd situation. Playing Manning makes him feel relieved in at least one aspect. At least he's got tape. All Guenther had to go on with Manziel was 12 snaps against the Bills and the unknown kept him up all week.
"Going into last week's game I didn't have a lot of evidence in what was going to happen in that game. I was telling the players after the game I don't typically get nervous before games but I was before that game because I wasn't sure what kind of plays we were going to see," Guenther said. "With Peyton, obviously, you have however long he's been in the league or with Denver. You have plenty of game film on what they are going to do. You have a quarterback with that kind of experience you have to be sound in everything you are doing."
Guenther's guys have also played him. When Manning threw for 291 yards and completed 77 percent of his passes for three touchdowns back on Nov. 4, 2012 in the Broncos' 31-23 victory at Paul Brown Stadium, seven of those starters that day are going to play a lot next Monday night, as well as six guys that came off the bench. It was the NFL debuts for Kirkpatrick and SAM backer Emmanuel Lamur.
But not having Pro Bowl WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict is the big loss from that day. But it looks like they'll get Newman back and he intercepted Manning twice that game.
"It always helps when you have guys that have experience. But each game is different," Guenther said. "You see it around the league. Each week is different. You just have to keep preaching to the guys that we have to play consistent, play good team football. If we can do that, we've got a good chance."