Upon further review, the Bengals' 28-24 win on Sunday in Baltimore came with an equal amount of patience and painstaking.
That's entirely appropriate. There was a lot of giving and taking between the two teams at M&T Bank Stadium before the Ravens were eventually grounded.
The Bengals took the lead Sunday, then lost it, retook it, then lost the lead again before regaining it a final time with a wild back-and-forth final quarter that ended with Cincinnati's second road win of the season not to mention an unblemished 3-0 record.
Like any football game, there were ups and downs. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis came out of the film room split on the Bengals' performance. While offering more room for improvement, he put the onus on himself after the Bengals flattened the flightless Ravens.
“We had a lot of good strong performances, and you don’t want to take away from what a lot of guys did, but we still have a lot of improvements to make," Lewis said. "We need to really do a better job of coaching them. On the other side, we have to do a better job of playing and executing. We have to play better; we can and will play better."
Now would be the time, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the shelf the next 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain for the 2-1 Steelers, and the Browns and Ravens below .500.
But, in addition to eliminating the hopes of their rivals, Lewis also wants the Bengals to cut out the mistakes.
“We have to eliminate some of the penalties we’re having," the coach said. "Overall, we need to play better situational football; understanding a situation fully, whether it be field position or time."
Lewis believes that playing experience and familiarity with scheme and opponent should have precluded some of the miscues seen Sunday. If anybody was making excuses, it didn't fly with the coach.
"Our guys are well schooled on tendencies, personnel, and formations defensively. Same with the offense on the variety of looks," he said. "We make a lot of positives, but we need to nail them 100 percent. We can take strides and improve with that moving forward. Those are the biggest things coming out of (Sunday), that we have to coach hard, and work harder to get things right.”
Basically, using a Lewisism, the Bengals need to keep chopping wood.
“We’ve had this start before. The guys feel good about it, they’ve worked hard to be here," he said. "They know the work ahead of them week to week and day to day. They have history with this, and know how to build upon it."
At any rate, any kind of 3-0 -- even a heavily qualified one, per the coach -- is far better than the much more precarious 0-3, which is where the Ravens find themselves. If they fly back into contention, and make relevant the season finale against the Bengals, it will be a January doozie.