Updated: 6:30 p.m.
Who is that man masking his emotions?
Despite his team at 0-3 after his worst three-game stretch before all the Pro Bowls, Chad Ocho Cinco preached patience and perseverance Monday.
"I've got no choice. I've got to be. The Boss Man told me to shut up and play," Ocho Cinco said. "Coach Lewis is my Boss Man."
And, Ocho Cinco admits, Marvin Lewis hasn't told him to shut up and play. But he smiles when he remembers when he first started calling Lewis "The Boss Man."
In the wake of the 26-23 overtime loss at the Giants, Ocho Cinco saw his job as accentuating the positive.
"Being like a little pit bull and fussing," said Ocho Cinco, who only has to go back last year to recall his visible outbursts. "No need. We don't need my problems to be a distraction. After seeing us on film, we've got a lot of positive things. To play the Super Bowl champs the way we did, we can play with anybody."
Ocho Cinco has eight catches for 88 yards in his first three games, his lowest three-game output in six years. Or since he caught seven balls for 92 yards from Sept. 22-Oct. 6, 2002. While he was held to three catches for 29 yards against the Giants, Lewis applauded his patience.
"He had a couple of chances where the ball went off his hands, so that would be five catches," Lewis said. "Still, they played their coverage rolled to him for the most part. He has to keep doing what he was doing. That's probably as well as I've seen him handle that kind of situation in a while without getting frustrated. He kept playing and playing, and when there were opportunities, he was right where he needed to be."
Told virtually nobody makes the playoffs at 0-3, Ocho Cinco asked, "Why not here? as well as "What better week to get a win than against the Browns?"
"We haven't really been explosive, but it's right there. Sunday was a start," he said. "I doubt we're going to go backwards. Not after the improvements I saw Sunday. After the tape I just watched. We had more positive than negative in the game."
With much of Bengaldom peeved that the Bengals ran the ball on the first two snaps of the overtime after scoring 10 points on the last two regulation possessions by passing 14 times, The Ocho shrugged.
"In a situation like that," he said, "they're not playing the same defense they were running at the end of the fourth quarter. They made changes, we made our changes. We went with what we thought would be the best in that situation and it didn't work that way."
He also said the Giants took away the end zone in the final minute of regulation, preventing a pass attempt for a winning touchdown and forcing a tying field goal.
"(The Giants were) in Cover 2, 6 inverted, two safeties back," he said. "The middle of the field was wide open."
The Ocho took less bait than a lobster Monday. He was asked if he's happy with his involvement in the game plan (yes) and if he planned to keep up with the incessant trash talking of former Bengal and current Browns defensive tackle Shaun Smith (no).
"I'll leave the talking to him," Ocho Cinco said. "There's no need to get in a war of words. He'll be talking to himself on the field. He talks to everybody and anybody about any damn thing. ... (Smith tells me) I'm sorry and I suck and I'm overrated. (I tell him), 'you're right.' "
Like he did Sunday in Jersey, Ocho Cinco won't wear the harness for his separated shoulder this Sunday when the Bengals play the Browns at Paul Brown Stadium.
Or, he says, for the rest of the season.
"I got banged up all over the place; I got hit," said Ocho Cinco, who dropped a ball inside the 10 on a field-goal drive in the first half. "A guy in the middle made a great play on the ball and as soon as he made the tackle, it popped out. I blocked, I hit the ground. I probably won't wear it for the rest of the year."
The club sounds optimistic on cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who missed Sunday's game with a sprained ankle. Head coach Marvin Lewis said Monday the injured guys had a chance to be back for the Browns.
But tight end Ben Utecht (chest) was hurting as he left PBS Monday. He worked out rather vigorously on the field Sunday before the game and he lifted some weights Monday, but reported his breathing was shallow.
"It hurts," he said. "I don't know about this week. We'll see."
With the Bengals headed back to the same stadim to play the Jets in 20 days on Oct. 12, Lewis said they'll make sure it gets corrected because it happened more than twice against the Giants.
"But those are the ones that were more relevant," Lewis said. "Sometimes you're able to get through it because we have the opportunity to signal the play in from the sidelines. There has been some issues with those things and the frequencies in New York, at least that's what I've been told. We'll try to address it better when we go back up there and play the Jets."
STAT CHECK: As much as Carson Palmer and his pass offense have struggled in the first three games, what about his opposite number this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium?
Browns quarterback Derek Anderson is next-to-last in NFL passer rating (43.5) and Cleveland's offense is dead last in the NFL while Palmer's big day against the Giants lifted his rating to 63.8 and got him out of the basement, according to Monday's Elias Stats.
But they were down there so deep that Palmer's 286-yard day for a 98.9 rating could only get the Bengals pass offense to No. 26 in the NFL rankings and No. 30 overall in offense.
Sunday's opposing offense has had similar struggles. The Bengals are 23rd in giving up sacks per pass, Cleveland 21st. The Bengals are 20th converting third down, the Browns 19th. The Bengals are 30th averaging just 3.77 yards per play on first down. The Browns are 31st at 3.05. The Bengals are 29th in points scored, the Browns last.
Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh parlayed his 12 catches and 146 yards into a tie for third in AFC receptions with Denver rookie Eddie Royal and fellow Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne of the Colts at 18 and fifth in yards at 216. Houshmandzadeh trails by one New England's Wes Welker, the man with whom he shared last year's NFL receiving title. Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall leads the AFC with 24 catches and Saints running back Reggie Bush leads the NFL with 26.
Bengals punt returner Antonio Chatman is 10th in the NFL at 10.5 yards per return.