Jeremy Hill (above) and Andrew Whitworth are headed back to Louisiana Sunday.
Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth gets the sense his teammates are angry over what happened Thursday night in the 24-3 stunner to the Browns and he liked that as they met for the first time since on Monday. But this is not one of those just-move-past-it games.
"I don't think it's behind us, to be honest with you. You can't play like that in a big game and put it behind," Whitworth said. "It's not one of those games to be put behind. You've got to fix what you need to fix and keep it as a reminder of so far, this is what you've shown and you deserve everything you get. You also get an opportunity to go earn what you want. So we deserve all the junk that we're going to hear, but we also still have the opportunity to go get what we want. That's got to be our focus."
Whitworth and wife Melissa usually spend time with some of his teammates during the week, so it was nothing out of the ordinary that the family got together with quarterback Andy Dalton and wife Jordan this past off weekend.
What was out of the ordinary is that Dalton was coming off the worst game of his career with a 2.0 passer rating.
"He's a competitor. He's ready to get back at it and prove who he is," Whitworth said. "We all have bad nights and all of us share losses. It's not just him. He's always going to take blame because he's the signal-caller. He's got the ball in his hands, but at the end of the day, all of us share in it. He just wants our team to win. That's what he wants more importantly. He believes in this team. That's what's important. And that's what's going to help us be successful."
Whitworth and Dalton are the offensive captains, but since Whitworth has been here nine seasons he's part coach, part brother, part psychologist for a lot of the young guys. Football, it seems, was barely discussed.
"When they get a chance to get away from here, get away. And have a chance to come back to reality. A lot of times for those guys it can be too much if they allow it to be," Whitworth said. "That's the biggest thing for me is that I want guys to understand, if you gave everything you had and played the best you could play and it was just the other guy's day that you were facing, then that's just life. There's not anybody in any other profession that's not experienced that every week. You just play a profession where everyone gets an opportunity to critique you. If we went and followed around a lot of welders all day, you'd probably be able to hammer a lot of welders that hammer things the wrong way."
HILL CLARIFIES: Rookie running back Jeremy Hill made more news for his post-game comments Thursday than his 55 yards on 12 carries. When asked if he thought the Browns were better than he thought, he said they were "worse than I thought…they didn't do anything special."
After being scolded by such veterans as Browns safety Donte Whitner (the man who spurned the Bengals in the same hour he tweeted he signed with them in 2011), Hill said he wouldn't take back what he said. But he did clarify it on Monday.
"Everything I said I meant," Hill said. "It was really meant as no disrespect to them. Just how we played really affected the game. They just did a lot of dropping back with eight (defenders). Simple looks. We just missed a lot of little things. It was on us."
Hill, who had a fumble after a big run, didn't leave himself out.
"Just watching the film, it was one guy messing up. Get 13 yards and fumble. Stuff like that," Hill said. "Nothing they did was miraculous. It was just us making simple mistakes. We'll see them again."
RUN REACT: Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said on Friday he wished the Bengals had stuck with the run a little longer. In the second half the Bengals' backs ran it five times.
"We were able to effectively run the football, and then we got away from running the football. We were forced away from running the football," Lewis said. "We had the fumble on another big gain. We've got to have the mindset to stay after it, continue with it. It was a 17-3 game at halftime. We've got to stay after those things. It wasn't that big a deficit."
Whitworth joked that as an offensive lineman, he always wants to run it. But he has also seen some serious success when they do run it. Dalton's 57 regular-season starts, he's 25-3-1 when the Bengals run it at least 30 times.
"It just seems like the history of our games is the games where we've run the ball more, we seem to have more success," Whitworth said. "I don't know if that's something we feel that way or not. We haven't talked about that kind of stuff. I can definitely say in games where I feel like we've tried to make that a point we seem to have a lot more success.
"The bottom line is everybody shares. We have to do better. Everybody all around. Once again it always falls back to leadership, so that will be my category. I can assure you we'll be all over it."
DOME SWEET DOME: Whitworth (West Monroe) and Hill (Baton Rouge) are two Louisiana guys going home to play in New Orleans at the Superdome this Sunday at 1 p.m. Whitworth is a fixture there, winning schoolboy state titles and even winning a national championship there for LSU's Nick Saban club when it beat Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
But Hill, who also stayed home to go to LSU, has never played in the dome. And not only that, he never rooted for the Saints.
"They weren't too good when I was a kid," Hill said. "l followed players more than teams. I liked Reggie Bush when he got to the Saints ... Playing for (LSU) was kind of my dream coming true, but I guess at this level it's also good to play in the Superdome. As a high school player, you always dreamed of playing there."
Whitworth has won some hardware there, but his most memorable game might be the last one, eight long years ago to almost the day (Nov. 19, 2006) when he was a rookie starting in place of the injured Levi Jones at tackle. He saw the 5-5 Bengals stay in the playoff hunt in a wild 31-16 win despite New Orleans racking up 595 yards, 510 passing by quarterback Drew Brees.
With the Bengals holding a 24-10 lead in the fourth quarter, Brees threw a pass right to cornerback Ethan Kilmer, still Whitworth's good friend and fellow rookie, and he ran it in for a 52-yard interception return. Kilmer, a seventh-round pick who had played wide receiver for two years at Penn State, had just taken his fourth snap at cornerback in a game.
He played in all 16 games as primarily a special teamer and finished second on the team with 16 tackles. But leg problems abruptly ended his career after one season.
"One of my great friends Ethan Kilmer with the big Pick Six," Whitworth said. "I don't think anybody in Vegas had that bet. He'd tell you that himself. He's still trying to figure out how that happened."
But Whitworth knows why the Saints dominate at home. They may have lost to the 49ers there last Sunday in overtime, their first home loss this season, but they're .600 in the last decade in that building.
"Any time you can create an environment where it's loud and really that energy and that confidence, which we've had that here (at Paul Brown Stadium) for a while now until this last Thursday night," Whitworth said. "That was the first time we hadn't played well at home for quite a while. And they've been able to just kind of bottle that up and create that energy.
"So it will be a great opportunity for us to go in and kind of do the same thing that just happened to us. So it's a chance to kind of pay it forward a little bit. That's kind of going to be on our minds."