Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 11/7/11
Over the first half of the season, the Bengals have gone from being named as one of the teams in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes to a contender for one of the AFC's playoff spots.With a 23-17 win over Tennessee, the Bengals have won five straight for the first time since 1988, when they reached the Super Bowl for the final time, and are 6-2 for the second time in three years.The last three times they have been 6-2, the Bengals have reached the playoffs.They also are in pretty good shape for what will be a tough four-game stretch of division opponents, starting this week against Pittsburgh at Paul Brown Stadium."We're where we want to be but everyone said in this locker room we have a lot more work to do," offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "That's the attitude of this team. We've got a chance to do what we want to do." Coming into the season, the Bengals were 10-49 under Marvin Lewis when trailing at halftime. They are 3-1 this season and have four wins when they have fallen behind in the fourth quarter.During the winning streak, Andy Dalton has completed 104 of 169 passes for 1,126 yards and nine touchdowns against five interceptions. In the win over the Titans, he had his first three-touchdown game with all of them coming on third downs."I think our guys, we keep learning, we keep having a good understanding of what's happening," head coach Marvin Lewis said. "Our guys are able to tune in and make adjustments, make corrections, revisions and move forward with new things and keep attacking."With talk of winning streaks now dominating the conversation, Lewis is taking the same approach as he did last month when there were discussions about a long string of Bengals' losing streaks."It doesn't matter. Some of these guys weren't even alive 23 years ago," Lewis said. "We're 6-2. We're OK. I wish we were better but this is where we are."Lewis has mentioned cornerback Nate Clements as one of the team's role models because he hasn't made the playoffs in his 11 seasons in the league.Clements, though, wasn't focusing on the playoff picture. Instead, his lone focus is on Pittsburgh."I said earlier that being such a young team we have a tremendous amount of maturity," he said. "Guys really take the approach that the most important game is the game that we have that week. We just leave it on the field and get ready for next week."NOTES, QUOTESLINEUP WATCH: Brian Leonard suffered a knee injury during the fourth quarter and his status for the Pittsburgh game is undetermined. Leonard has been an integral part in the Bengals' third-down schemes because of his versatility as a blocker and receiver out of the backfield. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap was injured on the next-to-last play of the game with what looked to be a hamstring injury, but Dunlap said after the game that his leg cramped up.Linebacker Rey Maualuga (ankle), tight end Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) and cornerback Adam Jones (hamstring), who missed the Tennessee game, could all be back to face Pittsburgh. Maualuga has missed the last three games, Gresham the last two and Jones has been in for only one play this season.BY THE NUMBERS: The Bengals have two wins against the Steelers in games at Paul Brown Stadium since it opened in 2000.STRATEGY AND PERSONNELPLAYER NOTES--TE Colin Cochart caught his first NFL touchdown pass on a 1-yarder from QB Andy Dalton in the second quarter.--RB Cedric Benson returned from his one-game suspension and had his usual workload. He had 78 yards on 20 carries, including a long run of 16 yards.--WR A.J. Green saw his three-game touchdown streak snapped but led the team in receptions (seven) and yards (83).--LB Thomas Howard led the Bengals in tackles (nine) and also had a forced fumble.--PR Brandon Tate, who returned a punt for a touchdown against Seattle, had his worst game as a Bengal with nine yards on five returns.
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