2-9-04, 10:40 a.m.
**Bengals right tackle Willie Anderson played in his first Pro Bowl Sunday night and it turned out to probably be the best game ever between the AFC and the NFC. The AFC lost, 55-52, but Anderson thought he seized the moment on a rare national showcase and showed he belonged.
Anderson also jotted a few games notes on his final post card from Honolulu. Amazed at the intensity of an all-star game. Upset at losing out on the $35,000 winner's share and the offensive game plan. Richer with a few borrowed pass-blocking techniques. Sore from playing in a high level shootout after a month layoff.**
There is no common courtesy between offensive and defensive linemen anywhere. It's like training camp. We'll always fight. It's like cats and dogs. Especially in a game like this and especially with the defensive ends trying to get the sacks to be the MVP and you're a tackle. We made a pact as an offensive line that our guy wouldn't drive away in that Cadillac truck.
I know I cared about winning. I know I wanted to play. You want to make an impression on the people that haven't seen you play very much. You want them to know you're the real deal. I think I did. I didn't give up a sack. You want to play hard to show your appreciation for being here. I was up against Michael Strahan and Leonard Little, and you have to be on in a game like this, or those guys will go right around you. Leonard Little might have gotten one pressure on me, but I think that was it.
I'm going to go home and start working out. Its scary being out there when you haven't worked out very much. I mean, you're not supposed to work out in January and there were a lot of guys out there who played in January. My foot is sore and my groin got tight toward the end, but it's nothing serious.
And I'm not badly out of shape. I might be carrying an extra 10 pounds, but that's not a problem. I'm just not in game shape. I'm out there shaking my head because, wouldn't you know it?, here I am in a 10-play, two-minute drill at the end of the game.
Guys like (Chiefs guard) Will Shields and (Eagles tackle) Corey Simon were going at it pretty good most of the game. Will Shields told me before the game, you always have to go full speed every play because the one time you don't, the D-linemen are going to act up on you
They try to lull you to sleep. They'll try to tell you they're taking it easy for a few plays, and then they're trying to beat you. It got rougher than we expected, and I think part of the reason was because there was something like 40 new guys here. I think the old guys were sitting back waiting, and the new guys gave it a shot of some new blood.
I didn't play any left tackle, but the three of us _ me, Jonathan Ogden, and Brad Hopkins – were able to rotate a few series at a time. I wasn't out there for the last drive where we missed the field goal, but I ended up playing a lot of snaps.
We were mad about giving up that 25-point lead. Here we've got all three of our running backs are record-setters (Jamal Lewis, Priest Holmes, Clinton Portis) and none of them ran it more than something like eight times. That's a disgrace.
Our offensive line coach, (the Colts') Howard Mudd is buddies with our line coach, Paul Alexander, and you can see that they do a lot of the same things. On the pass rush, they like you to jump the guy right away, and Paul let's us do that, but a lot of the times we drop step. I picked up some technique things off of that, and that was a good way to attack my guys. You don't want Strahan to get on a roll, to get hot, and Little is a guy that uses his speed a lot, so you want to make sure you get into him quickly.
We didn't use as many three-step drops as the Colts normally do. Today, there were a lot of five- and seven-step drops. I guess they wanted to give (NFC head coach) Andy Reid a new look, and there was no question they wanted to go deep down the field.
Chad played great out there. He gave the striped helmet a lot of nice air time. He may have surprised some people by just dropping the ball (in the end zone), but that's kind of a misperception. Chad's not really like that. He just loves to play. I think he showed everybody what he's got. People laughed at the beginning of the year when he said he was trying for 1,800 yards and going to lead the league, and look what happened. He led the conference and he had a big game today.
When he started dancing with the kickoff team right there on the field, that was great. But I think it went downhill from there. When we got up on them, 35-13, we were giving it to them pretty good.
It was fun. It was an intense game because I think guys wanted to validate why they were there. The introductions meant a lot to me. For all these years, I've been watching those guys come through the tunnel or run down the ramp, and this time it was me.
We were joking before with Takeo because he was wondering if he should go out dancing, and he did. For me, I just went out like any other linemen. We just don't want to fall down. We just want to get in a good jog for a few seconds and not end up flat on our faces.
Strahan is a good guy. I accidentally poked him in the eye on Peyton's last touchdown pass. If it's one thing I hate, it's getting poked in the eye, and I told him, "Oh, I'm sorry. My bad. Didn't mean it," and he said, "That's OK. You're all right, Big Will."
I really enjoyed playing with Peyton. The guy's a great competitor, a great teammate. I'll tell you, there were a few times in the fourth quarter you couldn't hear the snap count because the crowd was getting into it. It was a great atmosphere. It was like a big November-December game. You've got 10 great players all around you. That made it special and different.
Of course I want to come back. But I want to be like the Ravens or the Chiefs. I want to come back with about 10 of my own teammates.