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Bengals, Niners in Prime Time


The Bengals on Saturday make their first visit to San Francisco since 1996, playing only the second Saturday night regular-season game in franchise history. Before a national audience on the NFL Network, they’ll seek a second straight win.

“It’s one win, and we just have to keep building,” head coach Marvin Lewis said after last week’s 19-10 home conquest of St. Louis. “The (St. Louis) game had its moments of brilliance, but also the opposite at other times. It’s time to put it together this week in all three phases and show the team we can be.”

The Bengals have won three of five following a 2-6 start, and still can avoid a losing season, which Lewis has not suffered since taking the team’s reins in 2003.

The Bengals defense has performed at a winning level for every game of the last five. Cincinnati has allowed only 270.0 yards per game and has held foes to a 31.0 percent conversion rate on third downs (18-of-58). In two of the last three games, opponents have not scored an offensive touchdown. Tennessee managed only two field goals in a 35-6 Bengals win on Nov. 25, and the Rams scored their only TD last week on an interception return.

“We’ve had the same guys doing the same things for a while now (after a rash of early injuries), and it makes a difference,” Lewis said. “I’ve said for the longest time that good defense is 11 guys playing together. Now we’re able to use the same 15 or 16 guys (in various sets). When they do what they’re supposed to do every play, when we tackle and don’t allow explosive plays, we see the results.”

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