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Missouri, Ohio combined 0-12 in NFL

Thursday, September 25, 2008

By JOE KAY

AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI -- Three weeks into the season, folks in the Show-Me State can't bear to watch anymore. Pro football fans in Ohio feel like they're living in the Blackeye State.

Why all the angst? Look at the numbers.

Missouri and Ohio have two NFL teams apiece. They've played a combined 12 games. Total number of wins so far: Zero. All four teams -- the Chiefs, the Rams, the Browns and the Bengals -- are 0-for-'08 in these truly blue states.

"I cannot believe it," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said, referring to what's going on in O-hio. "I can't."

Seeing is disbelieving.

These four teams have gotten off to the worst possible start, and they've done it with aplomb. The quarterbacks change, but not the outcomes. One receiver -- Cincinnati's Chad Ocho Cinco -- has more surnames than touchdowns. The four teams have scored a combined 12 touchdowns, the same number as Dallas, one less than San Diego, two behind Denver.

All four teams from middle America have gone south, but no 0-3 is more surprising than the one in Cleveland.

The Browns were a trendy preseason pick for the playoffs. One national football writer gave a commencement address in the state last June 14 and got a cheer from the graduates when he said he thought the Browns would make the playoffs this season.

Time to rethink that.

Those hangdog looks are back in the Dawg Pound. Crennel is getting blamed for an offense that has scored only two touchdowns. He might replace Derek Anderson with Brady Quinn if the Browns struggle again this weekend in Cincinnati, where the only question about the quarterback is whether he'll make it through the next game intact.

"Something's got to turn around soon, you know," Anderson said.

No, it doesn't.

Notable moment of the Browns' season so far: Basketball star LeBron James shows up for the opener in Cleveland, heads to the other sideline wearing Cowboys colors and a Yankees cap, and makes merry with the opposition. So much for warm-and-fuzzy civic pride.

Down south, warm-and-fuzzy has given way to hot-and-bothered. It's feeling like old times.

The Bengals are off to their first 0-3 start since 2003, when coach Marvin Lewis arrived and brought hope to one of the NFL's worst franchises. Fans were giddy when the Bengals went to the playoffs in 2005, but slid back into cynical mode as the team slid to 8-8, 7-9 and now nothing but defeats.

"You know, after a while, you've got to assume it's going to be corrected," offensive guard Bobbie Williams said. "But here we are, 0-3."

Quarterback Carson Palmer broke his nose during the preseason and got it bloodied again during an overtime loss to the Giants on Sunday that turned the "Battle of Ohio" into a Weekend of the Winless.

"I wouldn't believe it, definitely wouldn't believe it," Palmer said.

Notable moment: Lewis says publicly and emphatically that he doesn't want suspended receiver Chris Henry on the team, but owner Mike Brown pulls rank and brings him back, a reminder of who is running one of the league's most dysfunctional teams.

Want to see some more truly bad football? Go west, young fan, go west. No one can top the Chiefs and Rams when it comes to Missour-y in one state.

In Kansas City, the streak on everyone's minds isn't 0-3 but 0-12. The Chiefs have lost their last 12 games, a franchise-worst slump that sets them apart among the truly bad. Expectations weren't very high for the league's youngest team -- 15 rookies -- and the Chiefs have played down to them.

Damon Huard will start on Sunday against undefeated Denver, giving the Chiefs a different starting quarterback for the fourth straight week. Kansas City has lost by scores of 17-10 against New England, 23-8 against Oakland and 38-14 against Atlanta.

Tight end Tony Gonzalez said it's tough to keep from second-guessing what's going on.

"We think to ourselves: 'How come they're not doing this? How come they're not doing that?"' Gonzalez said. "But you have to shut that out. You keep it bottled up. When all of a sudden it explodes, that's when you say something really wrong.

"I talk to my family. I talk to my agent. I call my brother. I go into a room and talk to myself. Then you get back to the drawing board and you go out there and play football."

Notable moment: Stadium renovation snarls traffic for the home opener, leaving many fans stuck in traffic before they get to their $22 parking spots. They're already angry when they reach their seats and watch the Chiefs lose to the lowly Raiders.

Last and definitely least are the Rams, who have been outscored 116-29. They've lost by 35, 28 and 24 points, giving them 16 losses in their last 19 games.

Like the Chiefs, the Rams are switching quarterbacks, hoping to get more out of an offense that has scored only two touchdowns in three games. Marc Bulger was benched this week in favor of 38-year-old Trent Green, who will start against unbeaten Buffalo.

Of course, it's not all on the passer.

"Our quarterback can't be a piņata," tight end Randy McMichael said. "We've got to give him time."

Time is running out on a Rams season that seems to come up with a notable moment every week. The most recent: Following a 37-13 loss in Seattle on Sunday, an equipment man came into the locker room yelling that there were no towels for the coaches taking a shower.

No wins, no towels.

Perfect.


AP Sports Writers Doug Tucker in Kansas City, R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.



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