First topic: How could they have gotten so totally aired out in the season opener?
The Cincinnati Bengals were pushed around during a 38-24 loss at New England on Sunday that brought back memories of the bad old days when such things happened regularly. Their season opener was an eye opener for the defending AFC North champs.
"We just didn't play how we normally play," safety Chris Crocker said Monday. "It's just a sick feeling because we feel like we have a lot to prove, and we just got embarrassed yesterday. They just beat us in all phases."
Even their self-styled superheroes were irrelevant.
Ochocinco had Tweeted to his 1.2 million followers that he and Owens -- who are working on a reality cable show to air next month -- would perform a "symphony" for the Patriots. Instead, New England did a number on them.
In the first half, the Bengals managed only 105 total yards before the final play, a desperation throw by Carson Palmer that Jordan Shipley caught at the 3-yard line as time ran out. That play became the defining moment of the dynamic duo's debut.
Neither one was involved in the Bengals' longest play of the day.
Ochocinco had left the field to get fluids intravenously to prevent cramping in the second half. Owens had joined him in the locker room, leaving the backups to pull off the last play. After the game, Owens declined to say why he left the field. Coach Marvin Lewis said only that Owens went to get checked out, declining to say anything more.
A day later, Lewis said TO's absence involved a problem with his shoes.
"Well, the guy had shoes that just got here on Saturday," Lewis said. "Again, we don't need to get into all of that. It's over. It occurred, but it's not that big a deal. We were ready to go with the [other] guys. We knew he had gone in."
Neither receiver was available during the open locker room time on Monday. Ochocinco was headed off to host a wrestling show. Owens was promoting his fantasy football challenge on Twitter.
Both had already apologized -- through their Twitter feeds, of course -- for a debut that could best be described as unreal.
"Yes!! WE played bad!!" Owens tweeted. "No excuses!! There, u happy? I said it! Batman [stunk] & so did Robin! Nt how u start but how u Finish!!"
"Apologies to Cincy fans, tough loss today, only week 1, we've a long season ahead, all of you be blessed," he tweeted after the game.
TO and Ochocinco put up big numbers in the second half against a defense that seemed to ease up after the Patriots got ahead 31-3. Ochocinco finished with 12 catches for 159 yards. Owens had seven catches for 53 yards. Palmer passed for 345 yards, throwing it 50 times overall.
"We are playing down by a number of scores, so we had to take some shots and run some plays we normally wouldn't run in those situations," Palmer said Monday. "I was throwing some balls I normally wouldn't throw in those situations, just to make touchdowns fast."
The drubbing was complete. Palmer had an interception returned for a touchdown. The Patriots ran back the second-half kickoff for a touchdown. The defense had no sacks -- Tom Brady was hit only twice during the game -- and gave up 248 yards in the decisive first half.
A defense that finished No. 4 in the NFL last year had one of its worst days during Lewis' eight seasons.
"We'll just take a step back, humble ourselves, realize that we aren't as good as we think we are and think we can be," Crocker said. "But we still have to get where we're going. We can't live off last year's defense and how good we played because it's a new year.
"We just have to go out there and continue to try to prove that we are good, prove to ourselves now -- because we [stunk] as far as what you saw yesterday."