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Instead of folding like accordions, these four answered the bell

  • By Vic Carucci NFL.com
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They've been known as chronic folders, as teams that routinely collapse in the face of adversity.

Bad plays give way to worse ones. Leads vanish in the late going. Games that should be won are lost.

And when they line up for the next opponent, even one that is presumably inferior, these clubs have too often responded with another defeat.

The Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, and Houston Texans are among the first teams that generally come to mind in this category. In Week 1, each suffered a loss. Some were more maddening than others, but they were the sort of outcomes that left many of us saying, "Well, after all, it is the (Bengals/Bills/Raiders/Texans)."

However, in Week 2, all four teams did something that wasn't necessarily predictable: They won. A couple of the victories were bigger surprises than the others, but they all demonstrated a sense of mental toughness that they had not routinely shown.

Start with the Bengals. In an instant, their season opener against the Denver Broncos went from certain victory -- after a 91-yard drive ended with a Cedric Benson touchdown run gave them a 7-6 lead with 38 seconds left -- to what easily ranked among the more crushing losses in recent memory. Twenty-seven seconds later, a desperation pass from Kyle Orton was deflected and caught in stride by Brandon Stokley, who ran the rest of the way for an 87-yard touchdown in the Broncos' 12-7 win.

"It was very hard," Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom said. "And then seeing (Stokley's score) on TV a million times made it even worse."

If any team could have fallen into an inescapable funk, it was the Bengals. But they didn't. They traveled to Lambeau Field in Week 2 and shocked the Green Bay Packers, 31-24.

Odom, who finished with five sacks after registering two against Denver, credits the Bengals' coaches with doing a good job of "getting our mind off of (the loss to the Broncos) and just moving onto the next game."

"Something that we harped on all week (before facing the Packers) is the maturity of this football team and the attitude of this team is different than years past," said fourth-year Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. "It's more of an overall attitude in the locker room. Offensively and defensively, all of the guys are rooting for each other. We push each other.

"There's just a hunger to be good, and I think it surrounds the whole football team."

The Bills were presumably overmatched in their season-opener against the New England Patriots at Foxborough on Monday Night Football. Yet they managed to outplay the Pats from the start and build an 11-point lead with 5:32 remaining. Then the bottom fell out. After returning a kickoff he should have downed in the end zone, Leodis McKelvin fumbled to set up the first of two New England scores in the final 2:10 to give the Patriots a 25-24 triumph.

How did the Bills respond? They rolled to a 33-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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In the second half of the season-opening Monday night card, the Raiders weren't supposed to be all that competitive against the San Diego Chargers. Yet the game turned into another unexpected thriller with an expected result: San Diego 24, Oakland 20.

How did the Raiders' react? They rallied for a 13-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

After a preseason of high hopes that they would finally make their first playoff appearance in franchise history, the Texans opened their schedule at home with a bitterly disappointing, 24-7 loss to the New York Jets.

How did the Texans answer? They traveled to Tennessee and proved that all the hype just might be warranted by stunning the Titans, 34-31.

As far as Whitworth is concerned, it's all a matter of perspective. Sure, the Bengals were devastated by the way their game against the Broncos ended. But it's also important not to lose sight of the fact they had battled every bit as hard in that game as they did against the Packers.

"Had the fluke play not happened, the same thing would be the story: 'The Bengals fought hard in the game with Denver and found a way at the end of the game to go 91 yards and score and win,'" Whitworth said. "Without a fluke play, you'd have two weeks where we battled it out and found a way to win. Really, your great teams don't always win with flying colors. A lot of times, the really good teams are the teams that figure out how to win at the end of football games."

And the ones that don't are known as chronic folders.

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