Posted: 9:15 p.m.
Chad Ocho Cinco has decided to stir the memories in Cincinnati with some 2005 bravado while T.J. Houshmandzadeh stirred the pot in Dallas with 2008 numbers.
When The Ocho handed the phone to Houshmandzadeh during his conference call with the Cowboys media, The Dallas Morning News reported he said "Tell T.O. to tell (Cowboys offensive coordinator) Jason Garrett they need to throw the ball to him 24 times," Houshmandzadeh said. "Me and Chad ain't had 17 balls thrown our way in a game yet combined. Tell him they need to give it to him 24 or 25 times."
Indeed, the Bengals Pro Bowl pair has been thrown a total of 61 balls this season, according to the play-by-play sheets, and only once for more than Terrell Owens' magic number of 18 that set him off after the Redskins loss last Sunday.
It was 12 combined for Ocho Cinco and Houshmandzadeh against both Baltimore and Tennessee, 22 against the Giants and 15 last week against the Browns.
(Which is why when the media asked Monday about playing the rookie receivers, Marvin Lewis said, "We're having a problem right now getting the ball to the eight-year receivers.")
"I'm not going to call for the ball right now," Ocho Cinco said. "It would be nice to voice my opinion, but I think I'd get killed."
Instead Ocho went retro Wednesday in an effort to wake his team from the 0-4 slumber. He didn't guarantee or predict or boast a la '03-06.
He says he feels the Bengals offense is going to break out of its season-long slump Sunday against what he calls one of the greatest organizations in sports.
He also challenged the Cowboys secondary and ran around practice telling Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis, "The cat is out of the bag."
"What can they say? Once I say I'm going to do something I'm going to do it," he said. "I think this is what I've got to do to get us going. Period. So, anybody who plays for Dallas, get your A game. ... We're going to give them a run for their money. For some reason when we play teams like this, I'm sure everybody is counting us out. Watch how we go out there and perform."
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick noticed.
"I think it energizes us a little bit," Fitzpatrick said. "At 0-4, you're looking for answers. Anything you can do to bring energy to practice. It kind of lifts everyone's spirits. He was having fun today, and it definitely brings energy to practice and helps us out, I think."
The energy spilled into the locker room during the media session that followed a rare jam session with two Pro Bowlers on one line to the Dallas media.
"Adam Jones. Pacman. Whatever you want to call it. Terence Newman. Anthony Henry," he said, ticking off the names of the Cowboys cornerbacks. "Everybody is in trouble.
"I'm going to beat all the ESPN analysts that are going to kill me for opening my mouth. If you say anything bad about me, I'll retire and come and take your job."
This isn't the first time Ocho Cinco has gone looking for a big game by opening his mouth wider than the few weeks before. But this is the first time since 2002 he's had numbers that he calls horrible and his team is 0-4:
Eleven catches for 116 yards.
Yes, he's had 11 catches or more in a game four times.
"It's damn sure going to help me because my numbers look so damn horrible," he said. "I don't even know what they are. They're bad. They're bad."
So he's talking.
"If we get a win in Dallas, we'll get a win in New York," he said of the Oct. 12 game against the Jets. "Because that momentum buildup would be so big for us. We're not doing well right now, and if we beat Dallas that just builds up the confidence not just for us, but defensively.
"I feel bad because our offense has always been up there. And this year our defense is playing great defense and the offense is not meeting them halfway. Not even close. At some point we have to pick up the slack and help them out."
He almost reached a Zen-like serenity as he talked about no longer being "cocooned," the state of not talking freely.
"I don't have room to open my mouth," Ocho Cinco said. "I think people really want me to shut up. I've pissed off a lot of people here with some of the things I did and said, and my opinion, which I felt I needed to voice.
"But we are 0-4. So therefore I think my mouth needs to start running again and get this (bleep) going. Whether you like me or not, or whether you like the stuff that I do, it ain't right. I'm going to get it stirred up the way it used to be. Back in '05, '06, '07. We're 0-4; we've got to climb out of the hole."
One of his bodyguards, right guard Bobbie Williams, folded his arms across the locker room.
"Whatever he says, I've got his back," Williams said. "As long as Ocho goes out there and does his thing and catches the ball, he's OK with me. Whatever it takes, I'm all for it. I've got his back."