CINCINNATI -- Born and bred in the heart of Alabama football country, Dre Kirkpatrick's ties to the Crimson Tide run deep.
As a member of two national championship teams, winning has long been part of the former Tide standout's football-playing pedigree. So much so that for the three seasons he called Tuscaloosa home, Kirkpatrick saw just four losses. Three of them came his sophomore season, the other happened during the junior year that immediately preceded his jump to the NFL.
That means when Kirkpatrick was a freshman, his Crimson Tide didn't lose a single game.
With his Cincinnati Bengals currently sporting an undefeated record, Kirkpatrick can't help but think about the parallels this team is having to what his college squad had when it went 14-0 in 2009.
"To me, it's the same feeling," Kirkpatrick said. "It's all about how much we want it."
Oh yeah, it's about one more thing too.
"If you want to go undefeated, you have to have luck," the fourth-year corner added.
Earlier this week, with Cincinnati's stunning 17-point fourth-quarter comeback over the Seahawks still fresh in mind, Kirkpatrick remembered a similarly improbable win Alabama had his first season. In the eighth game that year, the traditional mid-October meeting with Tennessee, the Tide needed a pair of blocked field goals and another miss in order to hang on and win by two points. It was the last of the blocks that he recalled as having a similar effect as last Sunday's overtime win.
"There were a couple seconds left and we needed Terrence Cody to block a field goal," Kirkpatrick said. "We never one time looked at each other and said, 'We're going to lose' that game."
As time expired, the 350-pound Cody broke through the Volunteers' offensive line and reached up his left hand to knock down Daniel Lincoln's potential game-winning field goal. A split second after the ball hit his hand, Cody ripped off his helmet as he ran toward the Alabama sideline to celebrate. The Crimson Tide won in the closest, most heart-stopping finish it had all season.
It was the lack of panic Kirkpatrick mentioned that drew the most parallels to the Bengals' latest victory.
"Not one time did I sense or feel in the environment around me [Sunday] like we were going to lose," Kirkpatrick said. "It was all, 'we've got this, we're going to come through,' and that's what we did. There's so much power in the tongue and we spoke it into existence."
That's just how the Bengals could speak an undefeated season into existence.
Although you won't hear anyone in Cincinnati's locker room profess anything about running the table for a 16-0 record right now, the thought could creep in for some if the Bengals are able to continue doing what they have so far. Their brutal schedule, deemed the league's second-toughest before the season began, makes an undefeated campaign unlikely. But such a year isn't out of the realm of possibility yet. For the time being, they have to take care of the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
"Like I'm telling everybody, this is a different team," Kirkpatrick said. "It's not like the other teams. I don't know what it is. So many people can say a lot of different things about what it is, but I just know it's a different team. It's a different environment. We've bonded. And the bond has grown over the four years I've been here. I just see something great happening now."
Kirkpatrick hopes to keep seeing something else too.