Posted: 10:50 a.m.
Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who had his seven-year streak of 120 straight games with a catch snapped that started the game after Akili Smith's last start, almost hissed the first name of Jets head coach Rex Ryan after Sunday night's 37-0 destruction.
"The fear I had wasn't the individuals I had to play against, it was Rex," The Ocho said. "He's a defensive guru. That was my fear today. Rex."
The Jets No. 1 defense put the Bengals through their worst offensive game in history and it was an offense that had its first string in there for the game's first 35 minutes except for running back Cedric Benson. Ochocinco estimated he only played three or four series after he bruised his knee in pregame warmups when he slipped running a route, an injury that has been described as not having structural damage.
But in a Monday morning tweet, The Ocho indicated it is swollen and "can't extend my knee," as he waits for a noon MRI.
Meanwhile, converted quarterback Brad Smith, a wide receiver, bedeviled the usually rock-solid Bengals run defense with 92 yards on four carries, running a couple of times out of the Wildcat formation and other times lining up under center. He set the tone on the game's sixth play when he took a direct snap and cut it up the middle for 57 yards on third-and-seven, the longest run against the Bengals all season. Then Smith later scored on the second longest run against the Bengals, a 32-yarder in which he faked the option and parlayed missed tackles by SAM linebacker Rashad Jeanty and safety Chinedum Ndukwe.
"I'm sure it was missed fits on our part," said safety Tom Nelson, who appeared to miss Smith on the 57-yarder. "I think guys just ran under blocks. They were coming over the top. They cut the ball back and there was no one on the back side. People were on their blocks pretty much. They're mostly a downhill team. They showed a little more perimeter runs than usual. Besides that, nothing too much different."
The depleted Bengals defense was no match for New York's No. 1 rush offense. Jeanty, Ndukwe and Nelson were all playing for Opening Day starters out with injuries. They'll get back three starters for next week, defensive tackle Domata Peko, left end Robert Geathers, and safety Chris Crocker, but three are done for the year (right end Antwan Odom, SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga, safety Roy Williams) and they lost a key guy in the tackle rotation who made half the starts when Pat Sims broke his forearm late in the first quarter.
This isn't the same defense that swept the AFC North with stingy yards per and it hasn't been for the last month, when it has allowed three 100-yard rushing games in the last four games after yielding just two in the first 12 weeks.
Look at how the Jets converted seven of their first seven third downs. Starting with Smith's 37-yarder, they converted six straight on runs ranging from third-and-7 to third-and-1.
"It's just a part of this game; we just have to move forward and go from there," Lewis said.
Quarterback Carson Palmer had the worst day of his career with 1-for-11 passing and no yards and offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski didn't exactly see Ryan's pressure as a big surprise.
"We didn't play very well. They did a good job and whipped (us). There's not much more you can say about it," Bratkowski said. "We've got a chance to fix it. This is the same team that won 10 games. On the positive side we would have practiced against their looks for two weeks ... we had dropped balls, protection issues, poor routes. It wasn't very sharp."
Now the question is how do the Bengals handle one of the worst losses in their history in time to play one of their biggest games in history? Against the same team? In six days?
"I don't know what happened, but they've got to come to Cincinnati. It's going to be totally different than what you saw tonight," said right guard Bobbie Williams. "Because I know us. We got our butts whipped. Knowing us, we'll be ready. We'll respond accordingly."
Center Kyle Cook said it's at the point there is only one thing to do.
"I think we have to respond. It's win or go home," he said. "I think we're going to come out and have a good week of practice. We'll hit the film. We'll improve it and that's all that needs to be said."
All that left tackle Andrew Whitworth said is that the Jets won't get any extra points Saturday for winning so big: "It's going to start 0-0."
Palmer, looking at just his second playoff start, thinks the adrenaline is going to wash away the bad taste.
"I'm not sure exactly what it is about our team. We've been through a lot and it's been a long season," Palmer said. "We're excited about the playoffs. We've been thinking about the playoffs since before the season started. The thoughts of going to the playoffs were coming as we were winning games and putting ourselves at the top of our division. It was exciting and we didn't play with that excitement that we did Week 1 through 16. The Jets have to come and play us and they're going to come with a great effort. They're going to come with a great game plan. They're going to come with some new looks, the same looks that were effective against us because they're a good football team that is very well coached. We'll come out and we'll be ready to play next week."
Someone asked The Ocho if he had problems with his knee before Sunday.
"No. I haven't been hurt all year," he said, then he looked around the dingy, cramped visiting locker room at The Meadowlands one last time and rapped his knuckles on a locker.
The Bengals hope they get some of that in the short week. The Ocho had the same question in one of first tweets Monday morning as he quoted his grandmother.
"It's how you respond after the loss that measures how great u are n can be? Be great!"