Even before the Chiefs took the Steelers to overtime Monday night, head coach Marvin Lewis's message had sunk in with his Bengals.
When wide receiver A.J. Green was asked on Sirius Radio Monday afternoon about not looking past this Sunday's game in Kansas City (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12), show co-host Adam Schein tweeted Green's response: "We lost to freakin' Cleveland."
So with the Chiefs now 1-8 after the excruciating 16-13 overtime loss in Pittsburgh, the Bengals are trying to avoid the obligatory "trap" game before heading back to the Carson Palmer Reunion on Nov. 25 at Paul Brown Stadium.
Later, Green elaborated. He wasn't picking on the Browns, but the fact the Bengals lost to teams they were expected to beat earlier in the season.
"That's exactly what we did," Green said. "You just can't go by anybody's record. You have to go out there and play and see what happens. This is a good team."
CROCKER TAKE: Safety Chris Crocker has seen it all.
The 4-3-1 second half of '08. The division sweep of '09. The 10-game losing streak in '10. The Wildcard rookie run of '11.
But he says it's too early to call '12. It's too early, he says, to say if the Bengals defy what has happened the previous three seasons and they have a strong second half. From '09-'11, they were 14-10 in the season's first half, 9-15 in the second half. Now that the Bengals are 1-0 in the second half after a 3-5 start?
"It's a good feeling just to go out and you feel like you have a good game plan and you execute it. Beat somebody very bad. Really beat them no ifs and buts about it. We slapped them in the face yesterday. We have to continue," Crocker said.
Crocker agreed Sunday's 31-13 victory over the Super Bowl champion Giants at Paul Brown Stadium is Cincinnati's best three-phase game since the 45-10 win over the Bears at PBS on Oct. 25, 2009. But, as he noted, there aren't a lot of guys around that remember history like that. Indeed, only 13 players on the team Sunday were on the team when Cedric Benson mauled his Bears.
"We don't really know what's going to go on the second half," Crocker said. "We just have to stay together and let loose on Sundays."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» What you didn't see on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's 56-yard TD pass to wide open A.J. Green on the game's fifth play:
Head coach Marvin Lewis called it one of those unscripted plays, but this time it was made without the ball in hand as wide receiver Brandon Tate picked up an unexpected safety blitz. Lewis wouldn't say the name in his Monday news conference, but left tackle Andrew Whitworth gave it up.
"(Tate) picked up a blitz that really made that entire play possible," Whitworth said.
» Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer agreed with the majority that cornerback Leon Hall had a terrific game holding Giants leading receiver Victor Cruz to three catches for 26 yards. And he said Hall didn't give up any of them because two were in a fire zone and on the other someone else covered Cruz.
» The Bengals were estimating they put about 20 hits on the best protected passer in the NFL, Giants future Hall of Fame quarterback Eli Manning, during his 46 passes and Zimmer got to thinking about the pass rush that sacked rookies Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden a combined four times in losses to Miami and Cleveland.
"We should have done that in some of these other games," Zimmer said. "It's what I expected all year long. I expected us to be like this.
"We rushed (the Giants) well. We probably rushed them better than I thought we would. They had only given up (eight) sacks. They work real well together. We seemed to get a lot of one-on-one matchups this week. More than I've seen against them. We were giving them some different looks up front. We were trying to get the quarterback to hold the ball a lit bit once in a while."
» Lewis said the players that missed Sunday's game, safety Reggie Nelson (hamstring) and wide receiver Marvin Jones (knee), have a chance to play Sunday in Kansas City, but he also called them "iffy."
» Zimmer would like to reverse a trend this Sunday. It's the first time he's faced son Adam Zimmer, a Chiefs defensive assistant coach, in the regular season since he's been coaching with the Bengals. When Adam was with Sean Payton in New Orleans, the Saints beat Mike Zimmer's Cowboys in 2006 and his Falcons in 2007.
» The Bengals signed linebacker Ben Jacobs of Fresno State to the practice squad and released rookie tackle Jeff Adams to make room. The 6-4, 243-pound Jacobs is a second-year NFL player that signed with Cleveland last year as a college free agent and played in the season's last five games with no stats. He was on the Browns practice squad for the first 12 weeks of last season and opened 2012 training camp with them. Jacobs started the regular season on the practice squad and was released Oct. 9.
Adams, a rookie from Columbia. spent this preseason with Dallas as a college free agent and was waived Aug. 31 before signing with the Cincinnati practice squad Sept. 2.