Bengals/Dolphins Preview

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

of them."

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


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.

Maybe not.

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.

Too late.

"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."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)