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With Chiefs on horizon, Bengals must avoid a 3-0 deja vu

CINCINNATI -- Certainly you remember Bill Belichick's now infamous "we're on to Cincinnati" line.

How could you forget? After all, it was one year ago Thursday when the New England Patriots head coach repeated a variation of the phrase five times during a news conference that came on the heels of his team's blowout loss at Kansas City. The Patriots were completely dismantled in that Monday night game, dropping it by a 27-point margin; the second-worst defeat of Belichick's tenure in New England.

Who was next on the Patriots' schedule that following Sunday night?

The Cincinnati Bengals.

Six days after being blown out on the road, the Patriots returned home and took out their frustrations on the Bengals, blasting them, 43-17. What happened to Cincinnati in that game can't happen again this year. At all costs, it must avoid a 3-0 deja vu when the Chiefs visit Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.

It was during Belichick's Wednesday news conference that week when he was peppered with questions about whether Tom Brady's run as an elite NFL quarterback was coming to an end. Sacked twice and picked off twice in Kansas City, the then-37-year-old had played like a dramatically scaled down version of himself. If DirecTV made a current-day commercial featuring him, Chiefs-loss Brady would have been the equivalent of Brady with cable. Including last year's playoffs, since that game, Brady has the league's highest total QBR and its most touchdown passes among quarterbacks.

Three straight times when Belichick was asked in last October's news conference about Brady's age or about the talent the quarterback had surrounding him, the coach quickly and succinctly responded with his now-patented "we're on to Cincinnati" phrase.

The saying has become such a pop culture phenomenon that even Chiefs coach Andy Reid used it after Kansas City's loss at Green Bay on Monday night.

For the Bengals, that isn't where the parallels to last year's game at New England ends. Just like when they entered the 2014 Week 5 game at New England, the Bengals come into Sunday's with a 3-0 record, and cautiously optimistic about their chances to finish the season with a deep playoff run. Also, the Bengals are facing a Chiefs team that is coming off an embarrassing loss on national television, just like the Patriots last year.

About the only difference is the Bengals aren't heading into this game after a momentum-halting early-season bye.

"I don't want to use the word 'complacent,' but last year we were probably feeling [confident in] ourselves after that fast start," safety George Iloka said. "We've got to stay even keel."

Bengals coaches don't believe their players will have a hard time doing that this year.

"They have history with this and know how to build upon it," coach Marvin Lewis said.

Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said that despite the hot start, he still sees glaring issues during film review. Those problems afford him chances to keep pushing his players hard with the understanding they will respond.

"It still gives me a chance, when I go downstairs, to keep cracking the whip and keep chasing them up that ladder," Jackson said. "We're going to get there. Or I'm going to die trying. One or the other."

Clearly, the Bengals hope they don't just have life at 3-0. As they move on to Kansas City, they desire life at 4-0. If they get it, it will be just the fourth time in franchise history that they have started a season that way.