Whether it is Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan or Jets head coach Rex Ryan, the Ryan brothers never like to give Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco anything deep and so they double him more often than not.
In two games against each club last season, the Ocho didn't have a catch over 19 yards but he did manage to send the game into overtime up in Cleveland with a great route that bailed out scrambling quarterback Carson Palmer on fourth down from the Browns 2 with 1:55 left.
The Ocho's longest catch this season is a 28-yard touchdown pass, so dating back to last season's 49-yard touchdown catch against San Diego, he's gone six straight games without a 30-yard catch. With Palmer as the quarterback, that ties the duo's longest drought without one. They went six straight in 2007.
The Ocho had an odd media moment Wednesday. He called reporters in an impromptu huddle at his locker, but it was over quickly because he had to go to a meeting. That didn't stop him from taking the blame for the offensive woes and defending Palmer.
"I usually start the trash-talking but the offense has been really stagnant so I have to back off of that a little bit until we pick up to where we're supposed to be in and do some of the things that's expected of us offensively," he said. "It's me. No, I'm serious, everything is me. A lot of media from outside is pointing the finger. When things don't go right with us offensively, it's on me. It's my (bleep) fault when everything goes wrong. I like the pressure.
"There's nothing wrong with Carson. Come on, now. You know. I think Carson has to throw the ball, we have to catch it. I dropped the ball. See? It's my fault."
The Ocho dropped one ball against Carolina and got one picked off, although it appears Palmer threw it too far inside of him.
"One (drop) turns into two and ... then I'm too old to play. That's what comes next," he said. "There is nothing wrong with Carson. Trust me. I've seen him for eight years. Carson and I have been dating for a while now. You know? He's fine. He's fine. Trust me he's fine and we'll show that this week."
Something always seems to happen up there when The Ocho plays the Browns. Last year it was the clutch play. In '07 he torched them for 209 yards and got doused with a beer when he leaped into the Dawg Pound to celebrate a TD. In '06 he lit them for 123 yards and in the '05 opener he caught nine balls. In Marvin Lewis' first win, in Cleveland on Sept. 28, 2003, Ochocinco had two of his 11 career TDs against the Browns (most he has against anybody), one on a 55-yarder from Jon Kitna.
HUBER PRIMED: One guy you know who is going to be a factor Sunday is punter Kevin Huber as he works against return ace Josh Cribbs. Cribbs strafed him last year up in Cleveland when Huber couldn't get the ball out of the middle of the field, then did nothing in the second game here.
"In that first game I had bad hits and in the second game I had some hits that were bad enough that he couldn't get his hands on it," Huber said.
Huber is coming off hitting for the cycle in Carolina. He not only put his first five punts of the season inside the 20, but he put three inside the 5, the last one with less than four minutes left in the game.
"The gunners did a great job getting down the field," he said of running back Bernard Scott and cornerback Morgan Trent. "I'm sure we'll game plan (Cribbs)."
Cribbs is looking to pop his first big one of the season and he's not panicking.
"We've got a lot of young guys. When you see our stats from last year around this time, it was pretty small as well," he said on Wednesday's conference call with the Cincinnati media. "We always have slow starts. Teams are going to kick away from you and they tend to get comfortable when you're not returning. Then we light them up in the return game. I'm going to just keep it quiet until teams get used to me not doing what I'm usually doing, and then we'll light them up. We usually catch fire around this time of the season anyway."
Huber, 10 years old the last time the Reds won the National League Central growing up in Anderson Township, went to Tuesday night's clincher with some high school friends and soaked it up from the third-base line about 12 rows back.
"Amazing atmosphere and then to see that it was only the fifth walk-off homer (for a playoff spot)," he said.
SOUNDING FUNDAMENTALS: Lewis has a good relationship with Reds manager Dusty Baker and in his Wednesday news conference he found himself talking about cutoff throws because Baker is always talking about fundamentals. Lewis begs, borrows and steals for something to motivate his team on Wednesdays and he didn't blink in using the clincher.
"I already talked about that this morning. I took them all the way through it," he said. "I took many of Dusty and my conversations about things. It's amazing, the simplicity of sports and what wins and what makes you average. What makes you consistent and have an opportunity to win."