CINCINNATI -- When the Bengals faced the media Wednesday, they sounded a lot like they did after the Washington game, a lot like they did after the New England game and a lot like they did after the Dallas game.
You get the drift.
We’re into Week 11 of the NFL season, and the local club has been repeating itself over and over again since its Week 2 loss at Pittsburgh.
"We’ve got to do the little things better."
“It’s a play here, a play there.”
“We’re confident we can right the ship."
The Bengals control their destiny but tenuously. If they win out, including two wins over the Baltimore and one over Pittsburgh, the Bengals would finish 10-5-1. The best the Ravens and Steelers and could do is 10-6.
But that’s way down the road. The Bengals are 1-3-1 over their last five, so they’re concerned with Sunday’s game with the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati’s first true home game in over a month. For the Bengals, the game is about as must-win as you can get in the November.
The Bengals have been close the last two games. They’re 0-1-1 and have been outscored by a total of one point.
"You look at last year at this time, we pulled out four or five close games," cornerback Adam Jones said. "We haven’t been able to pull out this year. Our goal is still not out of sight. The sense of urgency is now."
The troubling thing about the 21-20 loss to New York Giants Monday was the Bengals got strong games from their top defenders -- Geno Atkins and Vontaze Burfict -- and still lost because the offense couldn’t move the ball on the ground or protect Andy Dalton.
Heretofore, the offense had been better than the defense.
"The bottom line is we’ve got to find a way to get wins," left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “Wins cure everything. As I said after the (Giants) game -- and I still believe it -- if we score inside the 30, inside the 20, it’s a totally different ball game, and we’re having a different conversation. That’s pro football. When you don’t handle your business when you’re supposed to, the odds are going to turn against you. Those guys over there are good too.”
The key to getting those wins? All things you’ve heard before: Play smarter, clean up the little things.
"The mental determination has to go up," Whitworth said. "To come out of this whole, you’ve got to turn it up to have the kind of streak you need to get back in it."
"There’s very little room for error, and we’ve been having little things go wrong,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. "The majority of the time it’s our fault. We’re in the wrong gap or we’re slightly off and miss a pass. It’s all the variables of football, but they haven’t been going our way. We’ve got to clean them up and be more crisp because we don’t have that room for error."
One of the major problems in the loss to the Giants was that Dalton was sacked three times and pressured constantly. A photo from the game with offensive lineman on the ground as the Giants converge on Dalton was a Twitter hit.
“I don’t like losing games," Whitworth said. “The reality is it’s a team game. It’s also an individual game. All of us individually have to keep our guy away from the quarterback. That will help have the opportunity to have more success."
The confidence hasn’t wavered.
"We’ve been in games at the end and haven’t been able to make plays," Whitworth said. “When you do that, it can go one of two ways: You start to develop a team that doesn’t find the answer or you can turn it around and make a swing the other direction.
"It’s literally one play going the other way. It’s not some jump-off-the-bridge performance. The reality is the other team made a couple of plays, a call here or there that was better. We’ve got to find a way to be in that situation to make the play."
Dalton echoed that feeling.
“We still have a lot of confidence in this year," Dalton said. "There’s still so much to be determined in these last seven games. We haven’t lost any confidence because these games have been so close. We’ve just got to go out and find a way to get it done."
Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.