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Bengals players and Marvin Lewis explain why playoff drought doesn't matter

Making it to the final game is all that matters, and winning a playoff game or two but failing to get there is why Marvin Lewis and Andrew Whitworth don't care about the Bengals' playoff win drought.

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Saturday will mark the seventh playoff game in which Marvin Lewis has coached the Bengals.

Ironically, it will feature a similar matchup as Lewis' first postseason appearance.

Far too similar in fact.

That game also saw a backup quarterback attempt to lead the Bengals to win over the Steelers. Jon Kitna entered the game in relief of Carson Palmer after his knee injury, but was unable to knock off Pittsburgh. This time around, it's AJ McCarron filling in for an injured Andy Dalton as he recovers from a broken thumb suffered guessed it, Pittsburgh.

But while the quarterback situation may be similar, most of those Steelers and Bengals players have long since moved on, and this will be two teams vastly different in personnel. However, the Bengals identity with the situation and how Lewis runs his team hasn't changed.

"I don't think we change much of what we do," Lewis said Tuesday. "Every time the situation is different. Every one is a different situation; the health of your football team, when you play, where you play, it all changes. I think our guys understand how to prepare, and we're not going to alter much from what we've done all season."

Lewis has already stated he's preparing for AJ McCarron to be the starter in this game, which will be just his fourth NFL start and his first postseason game. Though not ideal, Lewis is confident the young signal-caller can get the job done.

"I'm being repetitive with it, but we're pleased with with AJ's preparation, his 'diving into everything' mentality, and how anxious for this opportunity he has been throughout the season," Lewis said. "It's how he's gone about it, how he's directed the football team and assumed the role of leader of the offense. He knows the hat's on his head, and number one, it's paramount to direct the offense and do his part and take care of the football."

As for the previous postseason failures Lewis has endured, he doesn't view them as something this team thinks about when preparing for Pittsburgh.

"Players don't go into that. I think other people do. We don't have enough time for that. There's not been a situation like that. Those are your words," Lewis said. "I don't think its an issue. You look around and there's 20 new guys from a year ago, and 40 from two years ago. It's part of it. I don't think there is a 'here we go again' feeling."

But while he says he's not getting into the playoff drought talk, Lewis does admit it's time for a win and an exorcism of Cincinnati's postseason demons.

"Well, we've been there before," Lewis said, via ESPN. "It's time to right the ship. You know, exorcism."

Adam Jones isn't exactly a fan of the playoff drought talk either, especially since he's been in four of the six playoff losses under Lewis.

"I'm not going to get all into s--- that we got into last time about that game, but I know we'll be ready, mentally and physically," Jones said. "We've talked as a group about that game. So we'll see how that goes."

Andrew Whitworth has been with the Bengals since 2006 while being part of five of Lewis; six playoff defeats. While not ideal, Whit knows one playoff loss or win doesn't mean much since winning four straight and holding the Lombardi Trophy is all that really matters.

"It's simple: You're in the playoffs to win and have a chance at the Super Bowl," Whitworth said. "That'll be the only focus and the only thing we care about."

Vincent Rey agrees that anything other than a Super Bowl is just talk.

"All that matters is if we win," Rey said via ESPN.  All that other stuff, that side stuff, it's finished."

To sum it up, the Bengals don't care about the fact that this franchise hasn't won a playoff game since 1991. Over that span, 14 of the NFL's 32 franchises have won a Super Bowl, and these players are more focused on being the 15th to do it.

And frankly, fans and media shouldn't make as big of a deal about Cincinnati's playoff woes either. The only thing that six straight first-round exits shows is that none of those Bengals teams were good enough to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, something that was true of other teams in each of those postseasons.

This isn't NASCAR. The difference between second-place and 12th-place doesn't matter. If the Bengals lose Saturday, the story won't be that they didn't end the playoff drought (at least the real story). The story will be that they won't be holding a Lombardi Trophy come season's end. That's all these players care about, and that's all you should care about.