|Bengals QB Andy Dalton threw three interceptions in his first playoff game last year at Houston. (AP Images)|
Same opponent, same trip, same building, same day, same time slot.
One year later, not much will change as theBengals rematch Houston in the first round of the AFC playoffs Saturday. Well, Cincinnati hopes the result will. One of the biggest reasons why the Bengals believe they can avenge last season's 31-10 loss to the Texans is the fact they experienced it.
"As a young team last year, not to say we weren't ready for it, but we weren't used to it," WR Andrew Hawkins said. "It was new. We had a lot of young guys. Now that we know what to expect it's a different feel."
For one of the youngest rosters in the league, including Andy Dalton and A.J. Green playing their first postseason game, three hours served as a firsthand learning experience of exactly what the playoffs feel like. Almost unanimously, they refer to that game as the loudest atmosphere they've played in.
|The home of the Super Bowl|
"We're going to a familiar territory," LB Rey Maualuga said. "I believe this is a different group. This is a different team than we were last year going into the playoffs. We're a lot more familiar with the situation, and we're comfortable. We know how loud it's going to be and we know that if we give them a couple plays here and there, big plays, the crowd is going to erupt, the stadium's going to go crazy."
The Bengals combatted the decibel level in practice by blaring a Houston defensive theme song -- Bulls on Parade by Rage Against The Machine -- while running plays inside the indoor practice facility at the University of Cincinnati this week.
Although, in the mind of Marvin Lewis, the noise during the game wasn't when the atmosphere effected his team last season, the true test came before any pass or tackle.
"To me, the pre-game atmosphere was one of the things that was impressive, and our guys have been through that now," Lewis said. "It was not just like a regular Sunday afternoon game."
All the talk of understanding what to expect and taking playoff experience into a more educated second chance at redemption sound great during the week.
"It's great history to have, great experience we have, and we learned a great deal," Lewis said. Yet, in actuality, it means little once the ball hits the air.
"It just matters what happens Saturday," Lewis said.
Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates on Twitter at @CBSBengals.