The fight fired them up.
Now the Bengals have another chance to bond after nine of them got their fine letters Wednesday for their part in the Andrew Whitworth-John Henderson staredown that nearly cost Whitworth the stare part.
"It's an expensive bond, but it's a bond nonetheless," said quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the only Bengal on the field that didn't get fined for being in the fighting area.
Like Whitworth ($10,000), left tackle Levi Jones ($5,000) and wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco ($2,500) plan to appeal. Jones, who pulled Henderson's fingers away from Whitworth's eyes, knows why he got fined but doesn't agree. Ocho Cinco doesn't know why because he was on the periphery. But apparently close enough.
"No big deal. I haven't been fined all year, so I'll be sure to appeal that," The Ocho said. "I wasn't in the fight. I'm not sure where the fine came from."
Jones knows because he helped break it up.
"I was trying to protect my teammate who wasn't wearing a helmet," Jones said. "I took Henderson's hands off Whit's face. I understand there are rules and we do have to follow them, but you have to go by situations."
"Five grand for breaking up a fight. I think we're going to appeal," Jones said when asked if it was a little harsh. "That's a lot harsh. I understand what they're trying to say. In the area of the fight. Active. Inactive. But when a player without his helmet on is defenseless like that, am I really to be at fault since I'm trying to protect my player from being seriously injured? His protective wear is off and the other guy is protected."
But now, Fitzpatrick has no protection against the tab.
"Fitz has to take us now," said Jones about a free dinner. "We might fine him for being the only guy not fined."
For his part, Fitzpatrick said he'll go McDonald's and "maybe I'll ramp it up to Burger King," but he insists he did help.
"I just tried to keep everybody off the field and then I waddled over there when it looked like the fight was over," he said.
But seriously, it's food for thought that the fines can help keep things together.
Whitworth appreciates the help and even let Fitzpatrick off the hook.
"Fitz said the only way he was going to get fined is if they fined the guy running away," he said. "But Fitz did the right thing. He stayed out of it. It's a difficult thing. It's one of those deals where terminology reads one way and common sense is another.
"We showed we were supporting each other as a team. As a team we were there for each other. That's something that sticks out."
It isn't lost on veteran safety Chris Crocker, who showed up off the waiver wire when the Bengals were 0-8. Crocker, a 2003 draft pick of the Browns, still has friends in Cleveland and, yes, he thought the stuff that was happening there with teammates accusing each other of quitting would have been the kind of thing happening here.
"When the season is going like that, it's easy for people to point fingers," said Crocker, who last played with the Browns in '05. "I've been here, what, two weeks? It doesn't seem like that's the case here. Guys are still fighting. When I got here, I thought, 'The locker room has got to be rough,' but it's (not)."
Word on the street is head coach Marvin Lewis likes to keep the practices tough no matter the point in the season, but Crocker said, "He hasn't overworked us. Don't get me wrong. We get our work in, but I just expected a lot different. So far, it's worked."
Indeed, Crocker is 1-0 as a Bengal. The hope is they keep it together long enough to avoid the implosions that have hit the Browns, Raiders and Cowboys.
"It's like telling somebody they're going to get fined for watching his wife get beat by another guy," Whitworth said. "We're family and you're asking guys to think in a split second, 'I'm not going to protect my family member that some guy is doing something physical to.' Just trying to protect him. Not fighting, but breaking it up. How can you ask guys to do that?"
Fitzpatrick knows there will be no questions asked. He's going to get some abuse.
"I hope,' he said, "there's no video."