But the football star, who started this competition scoring triples 6s, flipped that around, getting triple 9s for one of his final routines. Ochocinco came into Tuesday's results show in last place, with 52 points out of 60 for his two dances.
"So for me to come in and do something like this that I have no clue how to do, to stumble at it, excel, stumble, excel, you know, keep on climbin' that mountain -- it's been a joy," said Ochocinco.
Burke also enjoyed the experience, and what Ochocinco brought to the competition.
"He doesn't let anyone or anything get him down and, you know, just being around someone who has struggled his way through to top -- it's been an amazing journey," said Burke.
The journey has been peppered with an entertaining but one-sided romance.
"I get to keep Cheryl," said Ochocinco.
"He's never going to give up," said Burke.
So while Ochocinco moves on to a new dating show, partners Evan Lysaceck and Anna Trebunskaya, Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough, and Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy move on to next week's big finale.
"We have a game plan, do we not? You know, we're going to try to be different. We're going to try to do something that others are not going for," said Chmerkovskiy.
"Next week is our last chance to give them our all," said Trebunskaya.
"Hey, we want to go out with a bang, right?" added partner Lysaceck.
"Expect every element! I mean, there's going to be rain, wind, fire!" said Scherzinger.