CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals say, lesson learned.
The fourth-quarter meltdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in last year's wild-card game is still a fresh memory, especially this week with a rematch versus the AFC North rivals looming on Sunday (1 p.m. ET) at Heinz Field.
This year's Bengals, however, say they've turned the page.
For starters, nobody's talking this week. Adam Jones instituted his own gag order on the subject of Pittsburgh, and volatile linebacker Vontaze Burfict is serving a three-game suspension largely stemming from his actions during that disastrous fourth quarter in January.
It was a fumble by Jeremy Hill and 15-yard penalties on Jones and Burfict that helped set up the game-winning field goal, and extended a 25-year postseason drought for Cincinnati.
The Bengals took punch after punch from the New York Jets in Sunday's season opener and emerged victorious with a 23-22 decision. They believe that's a sign of new resolve within coach Marvin Lewis' squad.
"Against Pittsburgh last year, we fought ourselves out of a big hole in a playoff game. But in the end, we lost," tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "(Sunday) was the same kind of game, and we won. We don't worry about last year. We move on and hopefully get better."
Dalton, who fractured his thumb against those same Steelers in Week 14, won at Pittsburgh earlier in the season. He also was enjoying the finest season of his career prior to the injury with more than 3,200 yards passing and 25 touchdowns.
So, in two losses to the Steelers last year, Dalton missed most of one game and all of the other. Now, he's back.
The red-headed Texan passed for 366 yards on Sunday despite being sacked seven times, and pressured often. He's preparing for similar pressure along the confluence of the Three Rivers.
"Anytime you go on the road, it's tough to win," Dalton said. "Everything is stacked up against you. Especially in Pittsburgh. It's a divisional game. The crowd's going to be into it. You have to stay poised. Just stick to the game plan. You have to steal games on the road."
Steal, being the operative word, not give. To that point, mum's been the word in the Bengals' locker room this week.
"It's still going to be a hard-fought game," cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. "But I think we're going to stay away from some of the things that went on last year. I watched that film (of the AFC wild-card game). There was something going on every play. Every play. This is a new team, a new identity."
The Bengals' task is tall.
Pittsburgh has its offense firing on all cylinders behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (three touchdowns) and running back DeAngelo Williams, who rushed for 143 yards and two scores in a 38-16 win at Washington on Monday.
The Steelers plan to keep their emotions in check on Sunday.
"Largely, our guys handle themselves appropriately and don't let themselves get consumed by it," coach Mike Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I don't anticipate that changing this time around. We realize to win the game, you can't beat yourself. I don't need to wait until a game like this, where the emotions run high, to express that thought. It's just part of our every-day business."
-- Dalton and Green are the most productive QB/WR duo in their first five seasons with 395 completions for 5,789 coming into this season, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Their 40 touchdowns were tied with Miami's Dan Marino and Mark Clayton from 1983-87.
It seems at times that Dalton and Green share a brain.
"That evolves over time," Dalton said. "It's part of the chemistry. You get that when you have talented players."
The duo was drafted in 2011 with Green being selected in the first round and Dalton in the second. They connected 12 times for 180 yards and a touchdown in last week's win at the New York Jets.
-- Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko has never wrestled alligators, nor is he an expert on the reptiles. But, on Wednesday, Peko said the way a gator takes down its prey is the same technique he might institute on Sunday against Roethlisberger. "
"He's a big dude," Peko said. "You need to get him down, wrap and roll. You have to get him down when you get your hands on him."
Roethlisberger has a career 87.5 passer rating against Cincinnati, including more than 6,000 passing yards and 34 TDs. "He's a smart, patient QB," Peko said, "We've got some young defenders that like to fly around. That's what we need to do."