CINCINNATI — Cincinnati lost wide receiver Marvin Jones to injury before the season even started, then last Sunday, it lost tight end Tyler Eifert to a gruesome elbow injury and linebacker Vontaze Burfict at least temporarily to a concussion.
Sunday, it lost wide receiver A.J. Green to a foot injury in the first quarter and offensive guard Kevin Zeitler to a calf injury in the first half.
So far, about the only thing the Bengals haven't lost is a football game.
"Marvin and Mr. Brown have done a really nice job putting this team together," said safety Reggie Nelson.
That would be the 2-0 Bengals, thank you very much, the first time since 2006 the Queen City's NFL team has started the season with back-to-back wins, the second being an impressive 24-10 drubbing of the Atlanta Falcons at Paul Brown Stadium.
Last week, in a 37-34 overtime win over New Orleans, the Falcons gained 568 yards and averaged 8.2 yards per play. Sunday, the Bengals limited Matt Ryan and Co. to just 309 yards — a good many of those after the Falcons fell behind by three touchdowns — and 4.8 yard per play.
"Our motto around here is tackle football," said Nelson.
Or maybe the Bengals have a variety of mottos since the one that received the most use in the happy locker room on Sunday was "next guy up mentality."
No Green, no problem. Mohamed Sanu threw a 50-yard completion on a wide receiver pass and took an Andy Dalton hot-read pass against an all-out Falcons blitz for a 76-yard touchdown.
No Eifert and Jones, no problem. The Bengals put on their big boy pads and turned to the running game, where Giovani Bernard danced through holes while rookie bruiser Jeremy Hill carved out his own.
"You possess the football, you drive it and you push people up front and you're going to win a lot of games," said offensive tackle Andre Whitworth.
That's exactly what the Bengals look to be, a team that can win a whole lot of games.
On offense, two games have yielded no sacks and no turnovers. On defense, the Bengals have shown a nasty attitude — Sunday was full of scraps and scuffles — that exposed an attitude Lewis admitted he had been stressing.
"We stuck to the plan," said the coach who loves nothing more than when his team sticks to the plan.
Truth be told, coming into the campaign, there was some concern about the defensive side of the football. Yes, the team's best defensive lineman, tackle Geno Atkins, was back from knee surgery, but gone was coordinator Mike Zimmer, the man who called the schemes and set the tone.
Could linebacker coach Paul Guenther, promoted to coordinator when Zimmer left to become Minnesota's head coach, keep the ball rolling?
So far, so good. Even with third-down difficulties during the second half of the opener at Baltimore, the Bengals limited the Ravens to 16 points. Guenther's group held Atlanta to one touchdown as it picked off three passes. Safety George Iloka had two of those. Leon Hall claimed the other.
Ryan, who never found his rhythm, finished with an uncharacteristic 48.6 passer rating. After a first-quarter field goal tied the game 3-3, the Falcons saw their next six possessions end with four punts and two interceptions, in that order.
"We didn't play well across the board, but hats off to them," Ryan said afterward. "They had a good plan and came out and played really well."
"The defense has played well the whole year," said Dalton, even though technically we are just two games into the season.
Two games and two victories, however. And while Lewis professed not to know the extent of his team's growing list of injuries, none suffered Sunday were believed to be overly serious.
"When we're at full arsenal, we're a tough football team to beat," said Whitworth.
Even at less than full arsenal, the Bengals are unbeaten.