Only drama for Bengals is wind


Marvin Lewis

The only thing the 6-2 Bengals have put on the radar in this run up to Sunday's AFC North showdown at Paul Brown Stadium with the 6-3 Steelers (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) is the weather.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is calling for winds gusting to as high as 40 miles per hour with no rain predicted. The teams will be battling winds in the 20-30 miles-per-hour range in 60-degree weather, adding another subplot to their latest division saga.

Which means the Bengals locker room is going to be calmer than the elements, a major reason this young team is where it is. Head coach Marvin Lewis had to laugh after Friday's practice. Whether it's been quotes about Carson Palmer or inadvertently predicting a win over the Bills, he has been the loose cannon instead of his players this season.

"As long as I don't say something stupid we are all right," Lewis said. "I think that's probably a good thing. What I think is when we don't have the major press conferences all the time I think we are in good shape. Football is won on the field. I know you guys have a job to do, but it is won playing, it's not won talking about."

As the Bengals are finding out, their fans were also tired of the soap opera saga that always seemed to grip the locker room. But with the departures of wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, among others, as well as the trade of Carson Palmer—the disgruntled quarterback who hated the drama—the fans are enjoying this new, young no-drama Bengalrama.

"They wanted that, then all of a sudden when you don't win then you don't want it. They loved that. They are the ones who beckoned for that," Lewis said. "Of course, as everyone knows, it's all equated to winning. When you win I don't care what you do, when you lose I don't care what you do. You can be a bunch of church mice in there if you are not winning football games then that would be a negative, you know, we are not good enough, we not talented enough, you don't have enough bravado. You don't have enough confidence. Whatever it will be.

"You do like fact we don't have guys trying to beat their chests. And I am going to remind them all the time regardless of the outcome of the game we've got the next game coming up and I don't want to hear about what you did or didn't do, just play."

The only time Lewis's players have said something to the media that he hasn't liked is when they've talked publicly about their injuries. He knows that can be chalked up to wanting to get back on the field and not, as he says, to get "Pipped," as in Lou Gehrig replacing Wally Pipp and his headache.

"That's right, that's probably true. That's healthy. Guys want to get back, want to play, want to earn their spot to play. That's a good thing," he said.

Lewis knows the only drama Sunday is going to be physical, vintage AFC North physical. It's how this team was built and the former Steelers and Ravens assistant says, "It's all I know."

"We're set up to play this division," he said. "Everyone says you have to play them twice but they have to play us twice. Our guys are excited and ready to go. We get a chance to measure ourselves up against two very good football teams."

But strap it up. There are three North games after this one ending, naturally, in Pittsburgh Dec. 4.

"When the schedule came out the first thing I looked at was we played three new staffs early on, we played Buffalo who whipped our butts a year ago and so I thought as we opened the season, OK, here we go," Lewis said. "We have the chance to get off to a good start. And then we had to go on to Jacksonville, had Indy at home but now we had them at our place and then go Seattle and Tennessee.

"Seattle because of the atmosphere but Tennessee because of the team they were, I thought they would be a tough game. Things have played out. Now we get five games at home the second half."

One thing Lewis can't explain is how his clubs have won just once against the Steelers at PBS and four times in Pittsburgh.

"I don't know," he said. "You look at Baltimore and we've had more success. They know they're going to have to win physical football and we can't give up big plays and have to take the ball away."

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