The Bengals are into their second long practice week in less than a month's time before taking on Week 10 opponent Houston Nov. 16 at home on Monday Night Football.
The 10-day break in between games sandwiches the meaty Week 9 Cleveland contest, played four days after the Week 8 road game in Pittsburgh, with the Week 7 bye.
Probably the only thing better right now than an unbeaten record for coach Marvin Lewis is additional practice time. Even in the 31-10 shellacking of the Browns Thursday night, Lewis had his quibbles.
"We didn’t get off the field on third downs. There were four long drives in the game in the first half, and they ate up the clock," Lewis said. "In the second half, the difference was winning on third down and getting off the field. There wasn’t a turnover in the ballgame, so winning that was able to get field position back."
Hey, the Bengals are 8-0, so that's the only problem they have right now, right coach?
Wrong, wrong and wrong, said Lewis.
"We still obviously have a lot of areas of concern to work on offense, defense, and special teams," he said. "We’ll keep coaching hard.”
Post-Cleveland praise from Lewis was earned, and limited because of the potential that's still out there for the Bengals.
"All in all it was a good football game; a good way to finish the game the way we played in the second half," the coach said of the Browns beatdown. "I thought Andy (Dalton) played a very good football game. Our ability to get some of the catch and runs we had were really good. That’s part of playing; that you can have those things develop. Then we have the opportunity to throw and catch, then run after the catch, and make plays that way. You have to be well balanced in doing all those things."
The coach was asked how he feels about the revival of the deep ball in the offense's bag of tricks, and said, "We know we can hit the vertical plays when they present themselves, but there’s going to be times where you have to do a better job underneath, and we did a good job of that (against Cleveland).”
The Bengals' next victory clinches a winning season. They have already clinched a non-losing season. The Texans contest will be just the second game the Bengals have played in a 29-day span because of this season's scheduling quirks.
“Eight is not enough," Lewis said with a laugh. "Like Tyler (Eifert) said, ‘We’ve done what we can with what’s been handed to us.’ We have lot of work still to do. Nothing has been decided."
For the short term, more rest is in the offing for the Bengals. Later, a push for the best record possible in the AFC playoff chase and the No. 1 seed will likely also involve New England and Denver. But, first things first, said Lewis.
"We have a chance to get ourselves refreshed a little bit now. We had two tough division games, and now we have Houston coming here Monday night, which we know will be a very tough, physical game," the coach said. "They’ll be coming off their bye ready to go.”