Bengals Monday: Hello To Bye Week

For the 6-0 Bengals, a little down time this week before they put the pedal back to the metal in the ramp up to Pittsburgh. What would really fire up the post-bye party would be a healthy and productive return by Vontaze Burfict.

And now, a little down time for the Bengals.

They are 6-0. They're relatively healthy. They are all business in their attempt to get back to the playoffs and reverse recent results.

Coach Marvin Lewis is on record saying it will take a village to get the Bengals where they want to go -- deep into the playoffs.

On Sunday, in Cincinnati's 34-21 win at Buffalo, he received a team-wide effort that ushered everybody into the bye-week break with a sense of confidence, relief and unfinished business.

Lewis was particularly appreciative once again of the team's efforts on offense, which has transformed into a veritable juggernaut.

"We were able to do a good job and incorporate the entire offensive unit," Lewis said of Sunday's win over the Bills. "We did a good job keeping the quarterback upright, and the quarterback did a great job passing. Those are the kind of things we need to keep up. We always rely on those guys in those times."

Lewis tipped his cap to all of his players.

"Our guys have worked hard. They’ve taken care of the first part of the season," Lewis continued. "We’re basically halfway through the regular season now from where we started training camp to where we are right now. That was a 23-week start, so we’re more than halfway through what it takes."

The coach has been cautiously optimistic about the hot start, tied for best in franchise history. He knew before the season that a healthy Bengals team could do some damage. It was myriad injuries inflicting pain on the Bengals last season. This season, they are the ones putting the hurt on opponents, with a perfect start.

Yet, there is this sense that the best is to come.

Slow down, said Lewis. First things, first. The bye week provides a chance to self-critique, he said. Then, they will move on from there.

"This is a chance to look at us and get better," Lewis said. "We can put the hammer down and get better in a lot of areas."

Last year near this time, they answered the injury bug that claimed running back Giovani Bernard for nearly a month by making Jeremy Hill the full-time feature back. We all know what happened -- Hill became a star. They would love to discover a solution for the second-year back's plodding start to this season.

"We’re going to work and get better," said Lewis.

And the 6-0 start?

"A minuscule part of history," he said. "We’ve got bigger things to do."

Indeed, if the Bengals go 16-0 and lose in their first playoff game, this little 6-0 spurt will be ancient history by then.

They need to keep winning, and they need to win at the right time to please a suspicious portion of their fan base, who've seen the Bengals tease them before with soaring highs only to watch them follow with plummeting lows.

If the bye helps them do things better, and in the process they can recover the services of Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the one missing piece from the perfect start, they could double their win total before it's all said and done, and maybe do a little better than that.



It's all up to the Bengals.

But, what better way to say hello to the next phase than a wave of momentum heading into the bye.

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