Bengals sinking to new lows with another 0-8 start

Published 1:01 am Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halfway home, the Cincinnati Bengals still don’t have a win. Their perfectly dreadful start is reaching unprecedented lows for a franchise accustomed to them.

And there’s no sign of letting up.

A 35-6 loss in Houston on Sunday left the Bengals with their fourth 0-8 start since 1991, when Mike Brown took control of the team after his father died. There have been only nine other 0-8 starts by the rest of the league combined during that span.

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This latest one is breaking new ground.

The Bengals lost to Pittsburgh 38-10, then went to Houston and allowed the Texans to pull away to the most lopsided victory in the expansion team’s history. Coach Marvin Lewis now has presided over the most lopsided back-to-back losses in Bengals history, which goes back to 1968 when Paul Brown coached the team.

The Bengals have taken to falling apart when they fall behind, just like in the bad old days.

‘‘When you get down by a lot of points and you’ve lost a lot of games, sometimes things waver here and there, your effort here and there,’’ receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said Monday. ‘‘Maybe it’s just human nature. I don’t know what it is. You’ve just got to fight against that.’’

There aren’t a lot of chances that stand out on the schedule for that first win.

Next is at home against the 3-4 Jaguars, who are coming off a 23-17 loss to Cleveland. If they lose that one, the Bengals will head into their bye week at 0-9, one loss shy of the worst start in franchise history. The 1993 Bengals opened 0-10 under Dave Shula.

Up next: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Washington. The Bengals finish the season in Cleveland (currently 3-4) and at home against Kansas City (1-6).

No team has gone 0-16, so the Bengals will likely win one along the way. But the final record won’t matter much. This season already has been a reminder that the Bengals can’t shake their past. Since 1991, they’ve managed only one winning record — under Lewis in 2005 — and spent much of the time bringing up the rear in the NFL.