The Bengals have two long weeks to deal with one of the most embarrassing losses of the Marvin Lewis era.
The Bengals were out-coached, out-played and lost 38-13 Sunday to New England. The loss drops Cincinnati to 3-1 and into second place in the AFC North behind 4-0 Baltimore.
The Bengals do not play Sunday. They will play next October 15 at Tampa Bay.
At the bye week in each of his first three seasons as Bengals coach, Lewis has focused his team on a various weakness in the early part of the schedule.
For the next two weeks, until the Bengals play the Buccaneers, look for Lewis to concentrate on the fundamentals of tackling and ball protection.
Whatever the emphasis, Lewis has been successful. In the five games after the bye in the 2003-05 seasons, Lewis' Bengals have won 11 of 15 games.
"I think it's going to hit us at a good time," Lewis said of the bye. "We've got a lot of guys (injured). We've got a chance to get some guys recovered, get some guys rested and come out fresh."
In the blowout loss Sunday to New England, the Bengals played without starting center Rich Braham, starting strong safety Dexter Jackson, starting outside linebacker Rashad Jeanty and top special teams player Tab Perry, a wide receiver. Lewis also deactivated No. 3 wide receiver Chris Henry, who was a passenger in the vehicle driven by linebacker Odell Thurman, when the linebacker was cited for DUI early on the morning of September 25. Thurman was suspended until next summer by the NFL.
"Don't worry about all the other stuff," Lewis said. "Now we can just concentrate on the 12 football games left to play."
Jackson (ankle), Jeanty (foot) and Perry (hip) could be back for Tampa Bay. The prognosis on Braham is not good, and it is believed he has a fractured bone in the lower leg. The Bengals could have tailback Chris Perry (ankle) back from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for the game on October 22 against Carolina.
The Bengals squandered two early drives, settling for field goals on both. After leading 6-0, the Bengals were outscored 38-7 and lost 38-13. The Patriots rushed for 236 yards and gained 424 yards in total offense. Cincinnati has allowed 406 yards rushing and five rushing touchdowns in the past two games.
The run defense is the major problem the Bengals must correct.
"It could be a humbling thing for us as a team after the 3-0 start," Johnson said. "This could be more of a positive than a negative."
--WR Chris Henry was the Bengals' second-leading receiver after three games, and though not listed on the injury report, did not play Sunday. Coach Marvin Lewis declined to say the deactivation was discipline for Henry's involvement as a passenger in the vehicle driven by teammate Odell Thurman when he was cited for a DUI last Monday morning.
"I can only dress 45 guys," Lewis said after the 38-13 loss to New England. "So Chris was inactive today."
So he wasn't among the team's 45 best players?
"Not today, he wasn't," Lewis said.
Henry watched the game from the sideline in street clothes, along with other inactive players. Henry was not available to the media after the game.
--CB Tory James, despite getting an interception on a tip, was beaten repeatedly on big plays. James nearing the end of a fine career, and the defense would probably improve -- especially when playing man-to-man pass defense -- if Johnathan Joseph would start opposite Deltha O'Neal at cornerback.
--QB Carson Palmer, for all of his glowing statistical achievements, has developed some ball-protection issues the past couple of weeks. He has lost three of five fumbles on sacks. Of course, the breakdown of his pass protection has not helped.
--WR Antonio Chatman, who had been out of action since the preseason because of a groin injury, made his Bengals debut. He had one punt return for seven yards.
"I played more than I thought I would," Chatman said. "It was great to be out there again. I felt good when I was out there. I was a little nervous at first. But as the game went along, I started to get more comfortable."
Chatman was the fourth receiver, in place of Chris Henry.
--S Kevin Kaesviharn flattened New England wide receiver Reche Caldwell on a pass play with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. The hit knocked Caldwell backward onto the turf and drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. Kaesviharn felt the hit was clean.
"Obviously they (officials) didn't feel that way," he said. "You've got to live with it."
The penalty gave the Patriots first down at the Bengals' 25-yard line. New England running back Laurence Maroney scored on the next play to give the Patriots a 21-13 lead with 4:27 remaining in the third quarter.
--WR Kelley Washington saved a third quarter punt from reaching the end zone for a touchback. But officials called Washington for an illegal block above the waist on the kickoff after New England took a 7-6 lead in the second quarter, and for offensive holding on another Patriots kickoff in the fourth quarter.