This could be a perfect storm for us, but the Bengals are a better team than people think, especially better than their record indicates. They have a big offensive line and a mobile quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick who is getting more comfortable with the offense. It's going to be a challenge, but we want to and have to win – we could be 6-4 with a chance to get a streak rolling into December.
We're 5-4, which on paper isn't that bad; but there are high expectations from us and the fans. It's not really a negative cloud of energy so much as it is a demand for perfection and a want to be great. We know we haven't played to the best of our ability, and that's what's frustrating. By the same token, if we're getting beat by things we can't control, we can say that we're an inferior team, but we don't feel that way about any of our losses.
Our losses are from corrections that must be made. That's why it's disappointing to be 5-4. But by having some adversity and working through it, our core will come together and we'll be better because of it.
If we don't look out, the Bengals can sneak up on us. They have a more balanced running game now with Cedric Benson in there, who has pretty much come out of nowhere. And the guy they had in there before and to change the pace, Chris Perry, is also a talented guy. He works against defensive backs and safeties because he's such a talented receiver out of the backfield. That's a valuable and dangerous weapon.
We've really got to watch both the run and the pass this week. Yeah, the Bengals have a great set of receivers that we need to contain, but we've got to make sure we don't shut them down at the expense of the run defense. We contained Plaxico Burress, but Brand Jacobs and the Giants running backs made us pay. Obviously, you only have so many guys on the field, so when you put an emphasis on different things, you need to step up and make plays.
In the games we've lost, we've failed to do that at critical times. The good thing is that we've been in every game we've lost this season. But we need to get over the hump by making a couple of plays here and there.
To win these close ones, it takes the ball bouncing a certain way sometimes, and some extra-effort plays down the stretch. But it's not just late in the game – you have to make big plays early. Special teams plays and turnovers make a huge difference no matter when they happen. We have to play a full game to win.