CINCINNATI (AP) - New Orleans. Miami. Toronto. Running back
Ricky Williams has called each of them home during his 12-year
professional career. As the seasons went along, he visited just
about every city in-between, places big and small, stadiums old and
Not every one.
"Every year before the season starts, I look around the league
and I say, OK, there's only a couple of stadiums I've never been
to, or a couple of towns I've never been to. And Cincinnati is one
That changes Sunday when the NFL's kings of the road arrive to
play a Bengals team that's already on edge.
The Dolphins (3-3) have one of the league's most unusual
streaks. They're 3-0 on the road, 0-3 at home. No NFL team has
started this way since the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982, according
to STATS LLC.
Everybody talks about how difficult it is to win on the road.
Not for these guys - not so far, anyway.
"I mean, we have some confidence going on the road," said Chad
Henne, who has thrown three touchdowns and only one interception in
those three games. "This is a very big game for us. We don't want
another game to slip by. We have to try to get on the road, build
up some wins and try to become consistent doing it."
The only thing consistent about the Bengals has been their
Cincinnati (2-4) has dropped three in a row - its longest losing
streak since 2008 - with a defense that's nowhere near as good as
last season and an offense that can't get out of its own way much
of the time. Both units were penalized for having 12 men in the
huddle during a 39-32 loss in Atlanta last Sunday.
"Things can only get better," running back Cedric Benson said.
The defending AFC North champions are another loss or two away
from a midseason meltdown. They kept their offense and defense
virtually intact from last year, added receiver Terrell Owens to
amp up the passing game, and thought they were in good position to
try for the first back-to-back division titles in franchise
Instead, it's beginning to feel a lot like the bad old days.
"You can't sit here and try to bring last year into this
year," defensive tackle Tank Johnson said. "If that was the case,
then the Saints would win the Super Bowl again this year and there
would be repeat champions. Every year is different, and you've got
to find your formula for success this year."
The missing ingredient: A solid start. The Bengals have been
sluggish in the first half, especially on offense. They fell behind
in Atlanta 24-3 in the first half. Carson Palmer threw for 214
yards and a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter, when the
Bengals offense looked like its old self.
"The only thing I know is that when we felt it, we all felt
it," offensive guard Bobbie Williams said. "And we knew from that
point that they can't stop us. We knew it - if we got the ball that
we were charging. We've just got to get that feeling sooner."
As the losses add up, their outspoken receivers are so far
resisting the urge to unload.
"I know people are itching for me to say something," Owens
said, "but that's not going to happen. I'm just here and doing
what I'm supposed to do to the best of my ability."
The Dolphins seem to get along best when they're on the road,
something that carries over into the games. They've already won at
Buffalo, Minnesota and Green Bay.
"Guys really enjoy being around each other," linebacker
Channing Crowder said. "That togetherness and camaraderie is what
you need on the road when everybody is against you."
They might have gotten a home win last Sunday, when Pittsburgh's
Ben Roethlisberger fumbled while diving toward the end zone in the
closing minutes. The initial ruling of a touchdown was overturned
on replay, but there was no indisputable evidence that the Dolphins
recovered the ball. Pittsburgh kept it and kicked the winning field
Coach Tony Sparano got an explanation from the league office,
but didn't want to get into it.
"It's long over with to me," he said. "It's in my rearview
The Dolphins will be facing a depleted secondary in Cincinnati.
No. 3 cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was lost for the season with
a neck injury in Atlanta. Three other cornerbacks were limited by
injuries during the week. Plus, top pass rusher Antwan Odom is
sitting out the second of a four-game suspension for violating the
league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Miami has a real chance to stay road perfect.
"I think we're playing well as a team," Williams said. "We're
just trying to make that leap and decide that we want to be a good
team. But right now, we're just kind of going back and forth."