Adam Jones took the news that he is the Bengals.com Special Teams Player of the Year pretty well.
The fiercely competitive Jones prides himself on not being just a returner. He's an all-around player and, indeed, he defied logic by leading the NFL in kick returns while playing 70 percent of the snaps at cornerback.
"I think I'm one of the best corners in the league," Jones says.
But he also knows how much of an impact special teams had on the Bengals' playoff run.
"Some people look at special teams differently," Jones says. "The way I look at it, it's all about field position and creating points for the offense. We had a lot of good field position and we created a lot of points."
Punter Kevin Huber could have been the Special Teams Player of the Year. After all, he was named to his first Pro Bowl after breaking his own club records for gross and net marks. But, in a ridiculous oversight, Jones wasn't voted to the Pro Bowl even though he led the NFL in kick returns and tied for third in punt returns to become the only player to finish in the top eight in both.
"Considering I didn't have a touchdown, I wasn't too mad," Jones says of the Pro Bowl dis. "I was madder at myself."
But we weren't going to overlook him here. Plus, Jones supplied Bengals' fans with some of the season's most thrilling moments at the most opportune times, ranging from a 45-yard punt return in the opener, a 90-yard kick return against the Panthers, and an 80-yard kick return against Denver. The 90-yarder dug the Bengals out of a hole after Carolina had just taken a 31-24 lead with less than five minutes left, but Jones put them right back on the Panthers 3 to get them back in a game they eventually tied.
But that wasn't Jones' favorite return of the year. That would be the 80-yarder against the Broncos in the Monday night win that put the Bengals in the playoffs. He liked it because he counterpunched Omar Bolden's 77-yard kick return that opened the second half and helped Denver cut it to 20-14 on a three-play drive.
Oh no, here goes Peyton Manning again, right?
No, because there was Jones taking the ensuing kick 80 yards the other way and in about two minutes the Bengals were back on top by 13 points.
"We needed an answer, it was just right on time," Jones says. "It was a night game; a big-time game….The Denver game was more like a playoff game, a championship, Super Bowl atmosphere."
That's one of the big reasons Jones could have got some MVP votes. Although his team takes heat for the way it plays in the spotlight, Jones never backs down and seems to rise to the occasion.
"I enjoy playing corner," Jones says. "And I like to go back and catch punts. It's a mindset. You feel like you can beat the first guy and something can happen after that. I think the guys blocking do a good job. Ced Peerman, Dre Kirkpatrick. Darqueze (Dennard). Taylor Mays. They did a good job this year blocking. Marquis (Flowers) did a good job on kickoff return and punts as well. We had an all-round team. We've got a young group. I'm probably the oldest of the group. I feel we have a lot to build with."
Jones is 31, so kicker Mike Nugent, 32, has about a year-and-a-half on him. But Jones figures he's about 28 and has plenty left to give.
"That's it. (28) on the dot…I'm in the prime of my career," Jones says. "I've missed two-and-a-half seasons. Suspended (2007) for one. I sat out one (2009). The neck injury (Half of 2011) makes it two-and-a-half.
"My body isn't at the point where it's shutting down on me or where it's going to hit a wall. My legs still feel young. I feel good and I'll try to keep it that way as far as working out."
He took it pretty well.