The Bengals were feeling a bit wounded late Sunday night. They felt they not only had let the Jets get into the playoffs but had given their wild-card playoff opponent plenty of confidence after a 37-0 hammering.
Some teams might have trouble responding to such a beating, especially with only five days to prepare. But the Bengals are not just any old team, not this season.
"I'm not sure exactly what it is about our team, but we've been through a lot. It's been a long season," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "This team is resilient. We will bounce back."
Coming off a 4-11-1 season, perhaps the only significant offseason roster move the Bengals made was letting wideout T.J. Houshmanzadeh leave in free agency. Coach Marvin Lewis, entering his seventh year, seemed to be at the end of his tenure.
But a year after starting the season 0-8, something had changed. Not right away, mind you - the Bengals lost this season's opener to the Broncos, 12-7, when a Hail Mary heave by Kyle Orton bounced off two Bengals defenders and right into Brandon Stokley's arms with seconds to go - but soon after.
They reeled off four straight wins, one by a touchdown and the next three by three points each, to take control of the AFC North. The final win of that run, a 17-14 victory in Baltimore over the Ravens, came only three days after Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's wife, Vikki, died at age 50.
It was a time of grief for the team, but the Bengals persevered, going to 9-3 with two wins each over the Ravens and Steelers as they prepared to lock up an unlikely division crown.
On Dec. 16, wide receiver Chris Henry, who had stayed a Bengal despite numerous suspensions for off-field incidents, fell off the back of a pickup truck during an argument with his fiancee in Charlotte, N.C. (Henry was on injured reserve.) He died from head injuries the next day.
"We've been through a lot of different things, highs and lows, being in the spotlight, not in the spotlight," said linebacker Dhani Jones, a former Giant. "We came back from a disastrous season last year, too. We've really run the gamut with what's gone on with our team."
Ochocinco, who desperately wanted out of Cincinnati after last season's disappointment, has been the flip side to the two tragedies. He's back to being his wacky self, with the help of Twitter and a few orchestrated touchdown celebrations.
Well, Revis did shut down No. 85, who had an MRI Monday on his bruised left knee that revealed no serious damage after he injured himself falling on the slippery turf in Sunday's warm-ups.
He won't be trash-tweeting with Revis this week. "I only did that due to the nature of the game, it being the last one [of the regular season]. Next week, we'll be a lot more serious," Ochocinco said. "It's a lot more serious game. Won't be any Twitter war, any back-and-forth; I only did it because it's the last game of the season, before the playoffs. Him and I were having fun like that."
The Bengals entered Sunday with one of the top run defenses in the league, but the Jets shredded that defense for 257 yards on the ground. The Bengals did rest two starters on the defensive line, end Robert Geathers and tackle Domata Peko, and standout rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga was lost with a broken ankle the week before.
"We've been thinking about the playoffs since before the season started, and we played with an excitement the first 16 weeks," Palmer said. "We didn't play with that excitement we had Weeks 1-16; if anything can get us going again, it's being at home in front of our fans. The Jets have to come to our place. And we will have a better effort."