Chad: Bengals thinking Super (not Pro) Bowl

Posted Dec 29, 2009

Updated: 10:30 p.m.

The unsung Bengals, who came out of nowhere this season to sweep the AFC North and claim the division title, received some more incentive Tuesday when they didn’t have a single player named to the AFC Pro Bowl team.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau it is the first time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that a division champion hasn’t had a Pro Bowler.

The quarterbacks from the other AFC division winners, the Colts’ Peyton Manning, the Patriots’ Tom Brady, and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, were named. It is the first time since 1973 that the Bengals quarterback on a division winner didn’t make the game.

It is believed leading candidates such as running back Cedric Benson and cornerbacks Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph were named as alternates, but for the first time in their history the Bengals didn’t have a single representative after they had a winning season in a vote of fans, players and coaches.

Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, whose falling-backward six-yard touchdown catch on Sunday helped give the Bengals the title, said his teammates aren't thinking about the Jan. 31 Pro Bowl in his hometown of Miami. But they are thinking about the game that follows there the next Sunday:

Super Bowl XLIV.

"Who cares?" The Ocho asked. "How many times have I been to the Pro Bowl? OK, five. Been there, done that. That's old. I need to do something new. Going to the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl. That's all we care about. I don't care where it is. My Christmas present is getting the chance to go win it all."

Then he tweeted to Ocho Nation: "bengal fans we wouldn't be able to play in it anyway! SUPER BOWL BABY!"   

The Bengals could very well end up with some Pro Bowl players with the game now being played a week before the Super Bowl and players from those teams not being involved. The Bengals didn’t release the names of their alternates, but Benson is probably the second alternate at running back because he’s the fifth-leading rusher in the AFC and three of the top four made it: Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew, and Baltimore’s Ray Rice. The Jets’ Thomas Jones, the AFC’s second-leading rusher, has been named the first alternate, according to The New York Daily News.

"I think it's unfair the Bengals have nobody," said ESPN's John Clayton. "They won a very tough division and certainly are deserving to have guys on the team."

In the end, it fits in with the persona the Bengals rode to their improbable championship as a collection of castoffs who have blossomed in new roles with different coaching.

“It’s tough for some guys on our team who were good enough to make it,” said left tackle Andrew Whitworth. “But Chad’s right. We’re worried about winning the Super Bowl. We’re worried about being a family and winning games. That’s kind of tough. You win your division and you don’t have one guy. But that fits us. That’s who we are. We’re about winning games. That’s all the recognition we want.”
At cornerback, the status quo held with Darrelle Revis of the Jets, Champ Bailey of the Broncos, and Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders. Whitworth polled a good number with the fans, but a trio of top 10 draft picks made it at tackle with Miami’s Jake Long, Denver’s Ryan Clady and Cleveland’s Joe Thomas.

Whitworth has had a solid year protecting quarterback Carson Palmer’s blind side in allowing just one sack, but he knows he’s got an uphill climb as a second-rounder.

“It’s tough getting over the hump of top 10 tackles to get recognized,” he said. “I know that when you put on the film and watch it that I’m playing as well as a lot of guys. All I can do is keep playing and help us keep winning games because that’s what really gets you recognized.”

The Ocho, who made his fifth Pro Bowl in 2007, is 11th in the AFC with 1,047 yards. Houston’s Andre Johnson, New England’s Wes Welker, Denver’s Brandon Marshall, and Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne were the four Pro Bowlers. Johnson had eight catches for 135 yards working against Joseph and Hall this season. Marshall had four catches for 27 yards against the Bengals.



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