The Bengals just dance too well to fall flat now.
Did you see Ickey and the guys shuffling on the sidelines in the Jungle after Woods scored his touchdowns? Those were some of the best moves we've seen since, well, since the Bears' Super Bowl Shuffle. And Chicago rode that to the 1985 crown.Any team that can move collectively like that off the field has to be creative on it, right? The Bengals are as creative as they come in the NFL - and not just as hoofers.
There's the no-huddle offense. Sure, it was limited somewhat in the AFC Championship by a late decision from Pete Rozelle to ensure the Bengals wouldn't go with quick snaps to draw penalties. But the device still is effective in setting tempo for the game and the Bengals might catch San Francisco - the pre-eminent situation substitution team - off-balance.
There's Coach Sam Wyche's penchant for new wrinkles. The fake punt against the Bills was just the latest in a repertoire that has included tackle-eligible passes to Anthony Munoz, end-arounds and reverses to Eddie Brown, even plays that call for quarterback Boomer Esiason to block.
Cincinnati is loaded on offense. Esiason was the league's MVP, Brown averaged 24 yards a catch, Woods and Brooks are superb runners and receivers, and nobody can match the offensive line.
What will be decisive for Cincinnati - and end the NFC's dominance of the Super Bowl in the 1980s, particularly the last four years, when NFC teams have won by the combined total of 165 points to 56 - is its suddenly resurgent defense. Those guys can dance, too, particularly over fallen receivers and ballcarriers.
The Bengals had no trouble shutting down Seattle and Buffalo. Granted, neither has the weapons the San Francisco offense presents. But the 49ers' line is vulnerable, particularly to big, blitzing safeties and Cincinnati has one of the best in David Fulcher.
Cincinnati also has the revenge factor. In 1981, the Bengals won their only previous AFC title. The 49ers beat them in the Super Bowl.
So, it's time for the Bengals to turn that around. They've turned everything else around this season.
"It's amazing what this team has accomplished in one year," Esiason said. "But it won't mean much if we don't finish it off."