We've been harping on it here at Cincy Jungle all week: this week's game against the Houston Texans is huge. And, on Friday, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis finally agreed with us. In fact, while speaking with Bengals.com editor, Geoff Hobson, Lewis called it "the biggest game in his twenty years of NFL Coaching". Wow.
There's been quite a few "huge" games that have transpired under Lewis' tenure. In regards to the regular season, there was the statement game of 2003 versus the then-undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, where the Bengals upset them and won. Then in 2005, there was the pivotal AFC North matchup against the Steelers that eventually led the Bengals to the division crown. One could also point to the 2009 Week Two match against the Green Bay Packers as another. Now, we have this Sunday as another benchmark game in Lewis' seemingly continuous rebuilding cycles.
"It's a rebirth. It's a big game to win now because of what it means and how it continues to keep us moving forward. This is important because it can springboard us to where we need to go. Not just end, but we can build upon this game. Winning this game allows us to keep building. These guys have worked extremely hard and this is an opportunity to reap the benefit from how hard they've worked."
Throughout his interview with Hobson, Lewis uses the term "build" frequently. He knows that that's what this year was written off as and probably still viewed as such, even with the surprising success they've had. But, Lewis also alludes to the fact that a win on Sunday will be a "coming out party" of sorts for this young team.
Since it's "the biggest game in his nine years here", Lewis also sounds as if his assistant coaches will be well-prepared to face the Texans--especially in the wake of such a lopsided loss last week to the Steelers. The team is going to try and move around their two best offensive weapons, Jermaine Gresham and A.J. Green, in an effort to confuse the league's second-ranked defense. We'll see if it works.
It's good to see that the Bengals coaches realize what a huge game that this actually is. Lewis' candid nature regarding Sunday's matchup is a refreshing change from the usual "coach speak" that almost every other NFL head coach gives to their fans and to the media. Let's just hope it goes beyond words and they make Sunday another statement game in Lewis' third rebuilding project in Cincinnati.