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News » Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2008-12-04

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2008-12-04

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2008-12-04
The Bengals' long season of bitter disappointment will get no easier Sunday when they have to travel to Indianapolis to face a Colts team that has won five games in a row to emerge as a likely wildcard team.

Cincinnati is coming off its worst defeat of a dismal season, a 34-3 home loss to Baltimore. The Bengals dropped to 1-10-1, their 16th double-digit loss season in 41 years as a franchise.

But the Bengals say they are not looking at the record. They are looking at a chance to play against a team that, not too long ago, was considered to be -- along with the Bengals themselves -- one of the NFL's top offenses.

"I'm excited to play Indianapolis," wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said. "We've got four games to go, and when the season ends, I know I'm going to be bored, just waiting for next year. I like to play football, and I'm not going to jump off the ship when it might seem like it's sinking. We're hurting, but we're going to try to piece together some wins. And get some offense going."

The Bengals are last offensively in the NFL in points scored and yards gained -- a terrible combination. One explanation might be the spate of injuries, which will claim quarterback Carson Palmer for the ninth time in 13 games and starting left guard Andrew Whitworth. Left tackle Levi Jones might be back to face rush end Dwight Freeney. Jones has missed the past two games with assorted injuries.

Cincinnati's point total against Baltimore was a season-low, as was time of possession (21:02). The possession time was linked to a tied-for-team-record low in first downs (six), and the net offense of 155 yards was the season's second-lowest.

"You can't expect to win games when you leave your defense on the field like we are," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "This is a team sport and you've got to all pull

together, but we at least need to generate first downs and win some field position. We have guys who can make plays, better than what the stats are showing."

The Bengals have placed a franchise record 21 players on the injured reserve list this season. Safety Marvin White (knee) was the most recent. Seven of the players, including White, are starters -- and the count doesn't include Palmer, who is still hoping to play this season.

"It's particularly hard when you have three guys go down at one position," head coach Marvin Lewis said after the Baltimore game, "like we have in recent weeks in a couple spots (offensive tackle and defensive end). But that's what we have right now, and that's what we're playing with. You've just got to mask it, go play, find a way to get the job done."

Lewis said the bottom might have arrived. He predicted after the loss to the Ravens that next year will be better.

"Our football team won't have to go through another year like this, nor will our fans. Believe me," he said.

The Colts have won five in a row since a 3-4 start by winning close games. Their victory margins have been three, four, six, three and four points. Last week, they failed to score an offensive TD for the first time since early in the 2003 season, but they came out of Cleveland with a 10-6 win.

SERIES HISTORY: 23rd regular-season meeting: The Colts have won five in a row against the Bengals to take a 14-8 series lead. The Colts have had most of their success as the road team, with an 8-2 record in Cincinnati (2-1 as Baltimore Colts and 6-1 as Indianapolis Colts). As the home team, the Colts are 4-3 against the Bengals in Indianapolis and were 3-3 against Cincinnati in Baltimore. The Bengals have lost their last four at Indianapolis after winning three in a row. The most recent meeting was a 34-16 Colts win at Indianapolis in 2006. The last Bengals win in the series was a 28-13 decision at Indianapolis in 1997.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 4, 2008

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