Updated: 5:30 p.m.
Solomon Wilcots, the Super Bowl safety who does it all with the mike 25 years later, stood in the snap-crackle-pop chill of a late October practice Friday morning and remembered that run to the AFC championship in a Disneyland called Riverfront Stadium.
"We've all been talking about it because it's the 25th anniversary," Wilcots said. "And the one thing we remember is when it got to about this point in the year, the fourth home game, we knew that when a team came into our house, it was over. It was over. We had no doubts."
Fitting then that Wilcots calls Sunday's game for CBS (4:05 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) against the Jets at Paul Brown Stadium as the Bengals try to go to 4-0 at home for the first time since going unbeaten at Riverfront in '88, a skein that included an 8-0 regular-season and a divisional playoff victory as well as the AFC title game.
The current Bengals are trying to revive that Jungle mystique and left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the elder statesman of the offense, thinks he saw the beginnings during the wild fourth quarters against Green Bay and New England.
"Without a doubt. In my career, these first couple home games have been as loud and as great an environment as I've played in since I've been here," said Whitworth.
"It's tough, but it's what we're used to. We have to play football and continue to try to create that environment where people buy in and want to come and watch and be a part of it and that's all we can do. All we can do is continue to go out there and play to try to win. This is an entertainment business at the end of the day. To us it's about going out and winning and hopefully that entertains the fans and hopefully they'll come out and support us."
Back in '88, the Bengals went to 4-0 at home (and 8-2 overall) on Nov. 6, when they frolicked through the 2-8 Steelers, 42-7. In A.J. Green-Andy Dalton fashion, Eddie Brown hooked up with Boomer Esiason on an 86-yard TD pass to start the scoring and rookie running back Ickey Woods was off to the races with 110 yards on 10 carries, the second 100-yard day of five that rookie season.
They did it before 56,403 and as loud as that was, PBS will have about 8-10,000 more as the Bengals try to get to 6-2.
"It was unshakeable; undeniable," Wilcots said of the Riverfront confidence. "That's why when we got homefield advantage (in the playoffs), we knew we were taking the short bus to Miami for the Super Bowl."
With the Jets, Browns, Colts, Vikings and Ravens still on the way, these guys like the sound of that.
"We've started to create that environment," Whitworth said. "Hopefully we can continue." SHORT WEEK:Although everybody but backup running back Rex Burkhead is probable for Sunday's game, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is shaking his head at the NFL schedule-makers as he looks at Thursday night's game in Miami.
"We get a little bit of an unfair deal with a 4 o'clock game," Lewis said after Friday's practice. "Nobody makes sense."
The Dolphins are in New England on Sunday, but it is a 1 p.m. game and they'll be close to landing back home by the time the Bengals finish playing. Lewis plans an evening workout Monday and a regular Friday schedule on Tuesday before the club leaves for Miami on Wednesday afternoon.
Lewis says Sunday won't be any longer for the coaches because they've already started breaking down Miami. The key thing, he says, is taking care of the players quickly after the game.
"We just want the players to get the recovery things in their body," Lewis said. "Get the body iced down and recovered quicker ... then Monday morning we'll get good movement. Almost yoga-type of work. Get the lactic acid out of the muscles."
Wide receiver Marvin Jones (shoulder) went limited Friday and is listed as probable after he sat out Wednesday and Thursday. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (hamstring) went limited for the second straight day and is probable. Terence Newman (ankle) went full Friday after being limited Thursday. Defensive end Wallace Gilberry (knee) went full after he missed Wednesday. Burkhead (calf) was limited but was questionable.
NO MOVES: Cornerback Leon Hall is believed to be undergoing surgery for his torn Achilles on Monday, but it looks like he'll stay on the roster through then. With the short week staring at the Bengals, they want to be as flexible as possible. They've checked out veteran linebackers and developmental cornerbacks, but nobody has fit.
"We're in pretty good shape with the other guys. We're backed up with the depth with other guys. We just have to wait and see," Lewis said. "We've got a short week. We have to see. We'll have to see what we need when we go through these next five, six days."
An obvious move would appear to be to save the spot for wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, who's eligible to play in Miami. He practiced for the first three times since injuring his ankle Aug. 1 this week and Lewis thought he looked good, but wouldn't commit to anything. Starting from this past Wednesday the Bengals have three weeks to make a call on Hawkins.
"With the short week next week, it was easier to do it this week," Lewis said. "If we waited another week, the bye (Nov. 24) gets in the way."