Bengals Still Trying To Convince Fans

The Bengals are 1-0, but that doesn't mean the city is ready to believe in its football team just yet.

The Bengals' convincing victory Sunday, albeit against a bad Browns team, did nothing but raise expectations in Cincinnati that the franchise will snap its 14-year skid without a playoff appearance.

The Bengals will open their home schedule Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, one of just two home games in the first six.

Coach Marvin Lewis is glad "the opener" is out of the way and, in a way, happy that the Bengals did not have their Week 1 game at home.

"Yeah, we're going to subdue the excitement and just play football," Lewis said looking ahead to Sunday. "I'm glad that that's (the opener) out of the way, and we can go on to what a football team is all about."

Lewis also thinks that his players gained confidence over their nerves because of their physical shape.

"One thing is that we're going to be the best-conditioned team out there every Sunday, and I think they have the confidence in that now," he said. "And that should be something we put on our side of the ledger and feel good about.

"It'll play a factor this weekend. Hopefully the anxiety part we won't have to deal with as much this week. And we'll just come out and stay focused and do our thing."

The Vikings are 0-1, having lost 24-13 at home to Tampa Bay.

BENGALS NOTES

  • QB Carson Palmer showed the progress and work that remains just 14 starts into his NFL career. He missed just eight of 34 passes against the Browns but threw an interception and lost a fumble on consecutive offensive snaps in the fourth quarter. Coaches are giving Palmer increasing latitude to change plays at the line of scrimmage.

  • QB Jon Kitna was back to his role as back in Week 1 after starting the final three games of 2004 for the injured Carson Palmer.

  • RB Rudi Johnson rushed for 126 yards in the Week 1 victory at Cleveland. It was Johnson's 10th 100-yard career game. The Bengals are 8-2 in those 10 and now 10-3 when he rushes for at least 95 yards. Johnson did not play in the first series and did not start for violating an unspecified team rule. Neither Johnson nor coach Marvin Lewis would elaborate. Johnson still carried 26 times, 10 in the fourth quarter for 50 yards.

  • RB Chris Perry had 10 touches in the opener, twice as many as he did in all of an injury-plagued rookie season. He ran five times for 11 yards and caught five passes for 37 yards. "He had the defense off balance the whole game," starting tailback Rudi Johnson said of Perry.

  • WR Chad Johnson had to take two IV fluid bags to treat muscle cramps in the second half. He had his best career opener with nine receptions.

  • WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, while he doesn't understand the phenomenon, continues to play well with Peter Warrick nowhere in sight. With Warrick now in Seattle, Houshmandzadeh is the clear No. 2 receiver. He had five catches for 75 yards, including a 35-yard reception on a second-and-25 play that Browns coach Romeo Crennel said was the play of the game. It led to the touchdown that gave the Bengals the lead for good.

  • WR Kevin Walter had his best receiving day as a pro, catching four balls for 47 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown. Coach Marvin Lewis praised Walter for setting an example to teammates of how to expand.

  • TE Reggie Kelly played and blocked well, as did all three tight ends, helping the Bengals rush for 148 yards against the Browns. Tight ends did not have one of the team's 26 receptions.

  • K Shayne Graham, who did not kick-off during the preseason because of a groin injury, performed well handling all kicking duties at Cleveland. He made both of his field goals and nailed a kickoff a yard or two deep in the end zone.

  • MLB Odell Thurman made a splashing NFL debut in the opener. He led the team with seven tackles and had an interception to set up a field goal. "They might not know who I am," he said. "After they go back and look at the film they will."

  • CB Keiwan Ratliff had his first career interception in his 17th game and recovered a fumble. He plays primarily as the nickel back.

  • LB-DE David Pollack, despite a 20-day contract holdout, was second on the team with six tackles. He said the day was fun and that he was trying to learn as much as he could as quickly as possible.


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