Ochocinco boots the decisive extra point. (AP photo)
Posted: 6:45 a.m.
FOXBORO, Mass. - After all the Twittering and laughing and guffawing, it took starting quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan to sum up what wide receiver Chad Ochocinco had done kicking the extra point to give the Bengals a 7-6 victory over the Patriots Thursday night here at Gillette Stadium in their second preseason game.
"All joking aside," said O'Sullivan after he threw another touchdown to Chris Henry. "He kicked the ball through the uprights in an NFL preseason game and it won the game. Whatever you say, those things are going to happen in this in this league and it's nice to have that insurance."
What happened is that Shayne Graham couldn't kick with a tender groin, but it wasn't known until the Bengals decided not to try a 44-yard field goal late in the first quarter. Ochocinco, the Bengals multimedia magnate, gave them another story. He kept reminding head coach Marvin Lewis and special teams coach Darrin Simmons that he can kick even though he hadn't kicked a football since October.
"Remember when I used to juggle the soccer ball when I warmed up before a game?" The Ocho asked. "Coach Lewis took my ball away. Last year and the year before that. I think he got tired of it."
But they let him kick the point after O'Sullivan threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Henry on fourth-and-17 with 1:56 left in the half and they let him kick off to open the second half. But Lewis wouldn't let Ochocinco try a chip-shot field goal late in the third quarter and the ball just inside the Pats 6.
"Coach Lewis said we were on the (right) hash. It doesn't matter where we're at Coach Lew," The Ocho said, who claims he was his high school's kicker all those years ago. "You have to believe in me."
Bengaldom believes after The Ocho gave a 69-yard clinic to another secondary Thursday on catches of 13, 21 and 35 yards. The kicking, of course, was extra. With Graham shelved, Lewis and Simmons had discussed using rookie punter Kevin Huber.
"Marvin said let's give Chad the shot and I said, 'Go for it,' " Simmons said. "He'd done it before for us and he'd actually done pretty well. He's a soccer player. And he was really into it."
When Graham went through a similar injury last year back in October, The Ocho kicked one entire practice before the Bengals signed Dave Rayner for two games.
"Now they don't have to sign anyone," he said. "Hey, we don't need Shayne anymore."
All with a smile of course. He went from being The Old Ocho who can have fun and catch without brooding about money to The New Ocho, who can catch and KICK without brooding about money. After the kick went through the uprights, he joked with someone on the sidelines, "I'm going back to the negotiating table."
"We went through a lot of things," Simmons said. "We've worked together in practice before. I told him to make sure you line it up correctly, walk it off correctly. Give Kevin (holder Huber) the nod to tell him you're ready. Just watch Kevin's fingers. When his fingers move, you go."
The talk about the kickoff was a little more basic. Lewis told Simmons to take him out of halftime early and work with him before everybody else went out on the field.
"He hit a couple of good ones and I told him after he hit, just get out of the way," Simmons said.
The kickoff went to the Pats 9, which turned out to be his last kick. Lewis said he didn't have more concerns about Ocho pulling any of his own muscles.
"He'd pull a muscle playing receiver before he'd pull one kicking," Lewis said.
The Ocho is a big-time soccer fan and follower of English football. He has traveled to Europe to watch his friend, the great Frenchman Thierry Henry, and has had Henry's jersey hanging in his locker. He used some soccer knowledge at halftime.
"'Esteban' Ochocinco is back," he said. "The most interesting footballer in the world. Everyone has to remember, I've always said that soccer is my No. 1 sport. I think Ronaldinho would be proud of me right now."
Ocho's heroics, of course, didn't surprise him. Or No. 9. Carson Palmer didn't play on his mildly sprained ankle, but had a ringside seat.
"A very talented guy," Palmer said. "Great kick."
The kick overshadowed that Ochocinco looks to back to his dangerous self downfield. For the second straight week he caught a short ball, spun away from a receiver and got most of his yards after the catch. This one for 35 yards after frying cornerback Terrence Wheatley.
Another boxing move. Like he's coming out of the corner.
"Same move again. Real subtle. Just catching the ball, just flipping it," he said. "It's been there before, I just feel so comfortable doing it."
It was not lost on The Ocho that he was in as much rhythm this week with O'Sullivan (note the 21-yard dig route in front of old nemesis Leigh Bodden) as he was last week with Palmer and he seemed to remember how much he struggled with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last year when Palmer missed 12 games.
"It's good to get my confidence going as far as catching the ball like that," he said. "Regardless of who's at the helm I'm going to get the job done this year."
After The Ocho regaled the Boston media with his boxing exploits over the offseason he left the locker room saying this team is much different than last year, "Definitely. We'll stay that way as long as I'm here. As I go we go. Can I say that? ... the energy is coming off of The Ocho."
On Thursday night, it was enough to generate a victory you'd never thought you'd see.