Faith rewards Hawkins

11-5-02, 7:05 p.m.

BYGEOFF HOBSON

The week before, cornerback Artrell Hawkins stood in the Bengals' locker room taking a large measure of the blame in a 30-24 loss to the Titans after he gave up two touchdown passes.

Two weeks before that, a fan called them, "jackasses," and he regretted getting into a shouting match with the guy as he walked off the Paul Brown Stadium field after a 34-7 loss to the Steelers.

On Tuesday, he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week, proving yet again why you have to keep the faith.

"God comes right out and tells you life is always going to be tough no matter what happens," Hawkins said Tuesday. "I think last week was the low point because we had come so close and played so hard and well and still lost. I prayed really hard this week for my teammates. It had been such a tough week and I'm just thankful."

After hearing people say his team is getting bashed on a regular basis, Hawkins admitted he is surprised a Bengal got an award.

"I don't know, because I just don't listen to it or read it," Hawkins said. "The only thing I saw was on ESPN that said something like

no winless team had got its first win by so much. I know what people think of us, but I guess it shows that the critics appreciate a good effort and will give you the props when you deserve it."

Hawkins deserved it because his 102-yard interception return for a touchdown Sunday against the Texans is one of those true plays that stands up to all the clichés. Yes, it really did change momentum, turn the tide, and swing the emotion. Hawkins simply turned what would have been a 10-3 Texans' lead into a 10-3 Bengals' lead and a 38-3 victory. It doesn't get any bigger than that.

On a day he tied cornerback Louis Breeden's club-record for an interception return, Hawkins also had seven tackles (six solos), three passes defensed, and a short memory.

As a NFL cornerback, you must have the latter. Hawkins has called on "The Bible," frequently the past few seasons, and he has often said that commitment has helped him become a better, more mature player.

"It's a great honor and it's obviously one that you share with your teammates because without them it doesn't happen," Hawkins said. "It's team thing and I'm out of the old school. No one can boast. I've been reading "The Bible." All you can do is be humbled because you don't know what the future holds."

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