Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis ended his press conference Thursday with something he and his players must say all the time: “It’s a new season.”
History is something the Bengals are always trying put behind them because it’s littered with disappointments. An example is their record on Monday night. They’re 9-20 all time and 2-6 against the Steelers, their opponent tonight at Paul Brown Stadium.
The record is markedly better, 6-4, when the Bengals play at home on Monday night. However, in the last two seasons, the Bengals have been a better road team overall with an 11-5 record away from home and an 8-8 mark in Cincinnati.
The Bengals hope that’s an aberration and that the home-field advantage pays dividends tonight as they and the Steelers try to earn their first win of the season. The Bengals lost 21-17 at Chicago last week, while Pittsburgh fell 16-9 at home to Tennessee.
“It’s important to take advantage of the noise when you’re at home,” Lewis said. “It’s big. We played in a very loud environment last week. It didn’t hurt us in that way because I think our guys had pretty good focus, but even to the defensive players trying to make adjustments, they have to concentrate more as they’re listening to the coaches on the sideline. It’s just a different feel and atmosphere.
“This is going to be a great place and a great night and let’s have at it. I read it’s been a bit since we won a game here on Monday night so let’s change that history there.”
The Bengals have lost three straight games on Monday night: 34-13 to the Patriots in 2007, 27-21 to the Steelers in 2010 and 44-13 to the Ravens last season.
“It’s a big game for us not only because we’re playing the Steelers, but Monday night adds more hype to the game,” Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said. “Also we’re 0-1 right now. We want to get to 1-1, and the Steelers are the team we’re playing in the second game of the year.
“So I think all that makes it a big game, but you can’t do anything different. You’ve got to go out and play our best. We felt like we played well last week. We just turned the ball over, and it hurt us in the game. We felt if we don’t turn the ball over, it could be completely different. But we’ve got to fix those things that hurt us, and I think we’ll do that.”
The Bengals arguably played better than any other AFC North team in week one, but all four teams lost. Center Kyle Cook is still mad about the defeat.
“I’m sure a lot of guys are, the lingering effects from the last game,” Cook said. “We kicked ourselves in the foot. It just goes to show you if you make critical errors at a critical times, it doesn’t matter. Special teams, defense, offense, you can lose a game to a team you shouldn’t have lost to or a team that’s better. It doesn’t matter. I hope having that happen early will reiterate that.
“We have to play great football to win games in the NFL. You don’t want to look back in December and say, ‘God, I can’t believe that one got away from us. We just needed one more.’ So every game is a must win because, in the end, it always turns out that one bites you, whether it’s making the playoffs or a chance to get a bye in a first round playoff game. If anything (the loss) gets you ready for what’s down the road.”
Who: Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
When: 8:40 p.m.
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
TV: ESPN, Ch. 5
Radio: 1530-AM; 102.7-FM; 104.7-FM