From magic carpet to red carpet


A.J. Green arrives on the red carpet.

Updated: 10:15 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Bengals may have been shut out of the NFL's major awards Saturday night, but their magic carpet ride of a season continued on the red carpet at the NFL's inaugural Honors ceremony here during a taped nationally-televised broadcast at the Murat Theatre.

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green got bounced in the Cam Newton Rookie of the Year landslide and Packers rookie wide receiver Randall Cobb flipped Jerome Simpson's somersault to win Play of the Year.

But the Bengals still made themselves felt on the red carpet. Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, minutes from being named the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year, saluted the emerging combo of Green and Dalton.

"I hate that they've got another tandem in Cincinnati," Suggs said. "For a lot of years they had a great combination with Carson (Palmer) and Chad (Ochocinco). Even with (T.J. Houshmandzadeh). Now with these guys they've got another duo. Dalton and the young kid at receiver, he can really fly and jump. (Dalton) is tough. You can tell he's going to be one of the special ones."

There were some interesting moments on the red carpet.

As a sign of age, two titans from Super Bowl III arrived one after the other. Former Jets quarterback Joe Namath surfaced without a woman on his arm and former Colts coach Don Shula came in with the aid of a walker.

As a sign of youth, the Comeback Player of the Year Award went to a third-year player, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

"This is my first time at a big event like this; it's a very good honor," Simpson said. "I had trouble getting to sleep last night. It was kind of like a game. It's an honor just to walk on this red carpet."

Simpson's chic appearance belied his nerves with a Sinatra-style hat and a long, cool tie. In keeping with his downhome-cooked personality, Green had on a suitcoat, but no tie and no date with his girlfriend back in Atlanta.

"I'm a simple guy but it's always nice once in a while," Green said of the pomp and circumstance. "I've got a couple of ties, but not today. I'm just not a tie guy."

There were certainly no ties when it came to the Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Green, the first rookie receiver in five years with 1,000 receiving yards and the first Bengals rookie to make the Pro Bowl since 1981, got no votes from the 50-member national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Only Newton and Dalton got votes and Newton, the first rookie in history to throw for more than 4,000 yards, got 47 of them.

Dalton missed out on a chance to get the trophy from singer Katy Perry, but Newton made the most of it when the recent divorcee flirted with him in a moment that immediately linked them in the tabloids.

Before the award was announced Alec Baldwin, the night's M.C., ticked off the leading Rookie of the Year candidates with the cameras flashing to "the Panthers Cam Newton, the Bengals Andy Dalton, and NBC's Katharine McPhee, star of the new show 'Smash.' "

After Newton thanked God backstage, he admitted he kept an eye on Dalton.

"Absolutely. I'm a student of the game and I was watching what Andy Dalton and all the rookies did," Newton said. "It was amazing not only the success I had but what he also did."

Dalton, the first rookie in history to start all 16 games as well as lead a team to the playoffs, was also up for Pepsi Rookie of the Year in an online vote that Newton won in a field that included Dalton, Broncos linebacker Von Miller, Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, and 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith. Dalton won the weekly award twice during the season.

In his classic understated style, Dalton, who did wear a tie fresh from his appearance in last week's Pro Bowl in which he threw two touchdown passes, didn't take the red carpet in an effort to get to his seat before the taping started. But after the show he said he got a kick out of the experience with his wife Jordan.

"It's great to see me and A.J. and Jerome here together," he said. "It shows what we were able to do this past season. It's an honor to even be considered for the rookie of the year award. Cam did a good job. He definitely deserves the award this year."

Green walked into the ceremony picking Newton but rooting for Dalton.

"I'm taking Andy," Green said when asked if he or Green were second. "We got into the playoffs. It's the wins. It's the wins."

Also bested for an award Saturday night for Play of the Year was Simpson. His flip at the end of a 19-yard touchdown catch-and-run during the Christmas Eve win over the Cardinals at Paul Brown Stadium came in a surprising third. The winner, rookie Randall Cobb and his 108-yard kick return for the Packers on Opening Night, was one of the most surprised.

"I thought that play would beat me. I thought I'd be in the top five," Cobb said. "That play was crazy."

Going off the daily ESPN surveys, Simpson figured he had a good shot.

"Nineteen wins straight on ESPN and getting it retired," Simpson said. "Hopefully I'll get the award. But whoever gets it is going to have it going on and it will be an honor."

Even though Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has been roundly praised for taking them from a 4-12 season to a playoff berth with the youngest team in the AFC, he didn't get a vote in the AP Coach of the Year ballot. The 49ers' Jim Harbaugh won it with 45, followed by Green Bay's Mike McCarthy (three), and Denver's John Fox (two).

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