Time Served, Ocho Cinco Back In Good Graces

Things were back to normal at Paul Brown Stadium on Friday. Well, as normal as can be for a 1-8-1 team that sent home a star player from its last game.

The Bengals have fined Chad Ocho Cinco as part of their disciplinary action against the wide receiver after he was late for a meeting and then argued with coaches on Wednesday night, the day before the team lost at Pittsburgh, 27-10. Head coach Marvin Lewis sent Ocho Cinco home to Cincinnati Thursday morning but no further punishment is expected from the incident.

"I think the incident is behind us," said Lewis on Friday. "He understands why it happened and how it had to be rectified. He accepted his punishment, as you know."

Ocho Cinco was at PBS Friday morning to receive treatment for a knee injury that Lewis said began bothering him last week prior to the Bengals game against Philadelphia. Ocho Cinco was gone from the facility before the media's access time with players began, as were most of his teammates.

Thursday's game snapped a streak of 113 consecutive games played by Ocho Cinco. In his eight-year career he has previously missed just four games, all due to a broken clavicle in his rookie season of 2001. His streak of having at least one reception in 102 straight games remains intact.

The message sent by Lewis is that every player is to be held accountable. That might not always seem to be the case but on this instance it was.

"I think, yeah, any time a player has a thing that occurs like that you let your teammates down," said Lewis on Friday. "I think any time that you have to sit a player down it sends a message to players because that's the only thing they get and understand. Unfortunately money sometimes isn't as important to players as people would think it is but playing time is very important. That's their livelihood, that's how they extend themselves, that's what they do and that's important to them. So when you take away playing time that's the loudest voice they hear."

Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said the absence of Ocho Cinco hurt Ocho Cinco more than it did the rest of the team.

"He didn't let me down," said Houshmandzadeh. "Coach Lew might feel that way, I guess that's just what you have to say or what people believe happens. You let people down because they count on you, but you let yourself down more than anything else. Like I said, we're 1-8-1 with him, so we're 0-1 without him."

The Bengals were held to 208 yard total offense against the NFL's top-ranked defense. They went 62 yards on 11 plays in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead but managed just 43 yards and one first down on their next eight possessions. Houshmandzadeh leads the league with 77 receptions but had just four catches for 20 yards against the Steelers.

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