How poorly did the Bengals play in their 37-0 loss to the Jets Sunday? Let's count the ways:
— Cincinnati gained a franchise-record low 72 yards on just 40 plays.
— QB Carson Palmer completed just 1-of-11 passes for zero yards. He was intercepted once. WR Chad Ochocinco didn't catch a pass and suffered a bruised knee.
— The Jets scored on six of their first seven possessions.
— The Bengals surrendered a season-worst 257 yards rushing on 57 carries, the third time in four games the opposition has rushed for more than 120 yards vs. Cincinnati.
All in all, it was not the type of effort the Bengals were seeking six days before a rematch with the Jets, who clinched a playoff spot with the win.
"The Jets outplayed us in all three phases and they got the victory," head coach Marvin Lewis said afterward, per the club's official Web site. "Now, we get a chance to regroup and keep going again next Saturday afternoon and that’s about the size of it.
The PFW spin
Per his Twitter account Monday, Ochocinco noted (in a tweet to Jets S Kerry Rhodes, no less) that he was experiencing some knee stiffness, but the injury does not seem serious.
"MRI went well but why did I have to sit under that annoying machine for 45 minutes making those ridiculous noises!!" Ochocinco wrote Monday.
"He'll be fine," Lewis said of Ochocinco after the game on Sunday, per Bengals.com. "His pride got bruised."
If Ochocinco can indeed play on Saturday, he'll again be matched up with Jets CB Darrelle Revis, who's in the midst of an outstanding season. Ochocinco worked open a couple of times on Sunday but dropped two catchable passes. Considering the stakes and the opposition, this is the most important game of Ochocinco's career. If he plays like an elite receiver, the Bengals' chances of winning will soar; if he's a nonfactor, the Bengals will struggle. Cincinnati, which has scored 20 points or more in only two of its final nine games, desperately needs to make a few explosive games in the passing game. For that matter, Palmer, who was let down somewhat by his receivers Sunday, needs to take a step forward, too.
The defense also needs to rebound, and quickly. Starters FS Chris Crocker (ankle), DE Robert Geathers (knee) and DT Domata Peko (knee) could return Saturday, which would be a major boost; the losses of Crocker and Peko loomed especially large in Week 17. However, the defensive line took another hit Sunday when DT Pat Sims (forearm) was lost for the season.
The Bengals must be sound and stout vs. the Jets' running game and force QB Mark Sanchez into obvious passing situations if they would like to turn the tables in the rematch. The Jets converted 11-of-18 third downs Sunday, and Sanchez really wasn't put to the test. Certainly the Bengals have to like their chances of mustering a better defensive effort next week, particularly if those injured starters return. They have seen what can happen if they don't play well vs. Jets, and it is not pretty.