Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens dubbed themselves Batman and Robin at the start of training camp. They expected to play like superheroes on the field.
They have been mere mortals so far.
The Bengals (1-1) failed to score a touchdown in their 15-10 win over Baltimore on Sunday, a game that left the receivers frustrated. Cincinnati won the AFC North last season by relying on its defense and a run-oriented offense, a grind-it-out approach that worked again against one of the league's best defenses.
Doesn't do much for those receiving stats.
"From a skill perspective, we want to really throw the ball a little bit more," Owens said. "There were some opportunities out there that we missed. That's where -- as Robin says -- the frustration comes from. I can definitely feel for him in that situation.
"From an offense's standpoint, we played mediocre. We definitely could have played better."
Ochocinco had a 12-catch game against New England, but most of them came in the second half when the Bengals were already down 31-3. When it mattered, he and TO were not much of a factor in a 38-24 loss.
The big second half gave Ochocinco a boost in the league rankings. He's second in the NFL with 203 yards on 16 catches. Owens is 42nd with 110 yards on 10 catches. They've combined for one touchdown. The passing game ranks eighth in the league -- again, mainly because of the second half against a Patriots defense that had the game in hand.
Certainly not comic book stuff.
"Truthfully, it's not flowing the way we would like it to flow," Ochocinco said. "Not near. (TO) continues to remind me when I get frustrated in practice that it's only week two. It's really early. As the season goes along, we're going to get it together."
Their quarterback also is advising patience.
Carson Palmer had two chances to connect with the duo in the end zone against Baltimore. Ochocinco broke free when a defensive back tripped, but Palmer had to hurry his throw because he was about to get hit.
Also, Owens outjumped cornerback Fabian Washington in the end zone for a high throw. Washington appeared to grab Owens' arm as the ball arrived, resulting in an incompletion.
Palmer didn't take many chances, avoiding a turnover against a defense that hasn't allowed a touchdown this season. Ochocinco had four catches for 44 yards. Owens had three for 57.
"We'd all love to put up huge numbers, but more than huge numbers we love to win," Palmer said Wednesday. "Playing against that style of defense, no one is going to go off for 180 yards.
"They want the ball in their hands and I want the ball in their hands, too. I'm going to do what I can without jeopardizing our team or putting our defense in a difficult situation. There's going to be highs and lows. They're going to have those big-number games probably not week-in and week-out, but one is going to have a big-number game on a consistent basis."
Part of the problem is that Palmer is still getting to know Owens as a receiver. Owens began learning the playbook at the start of training camp, and the passer-receiver relationship is still in its formative stages.
"The separation he can create (with a defensive back), the speed with which he carries his routes is amazing," Palmer said. "We've been working together for a little while now and getting closer. Pretty soon we're going to be clicking just like Chad and I have been."
Owens and Palmer have been doing extra work around practice to get to know each other a little better. They talk frequently about how they can get on the same wavelength.
"It's not like I am a hard target to throw to," Owens said. "I think he has been used to a certain style of receiver over a number of years, throwing to Chad and T.J. (Houshmandzadeh). I was just making a joke to him the other day: I am TO, not TJ. It's one of those things I understand. We both want to be successful. It irks both of us when we misconnect on certain routes and things like that."
For now, Ochocinco has toned down the preseason bluster about making teams reach for headache remedies whenever they have to face the duo.
"Maybe Week 4, Week 5," Ochocinco said. "When we as a team are rolling, it should get scary."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press