Ochocinco takes on new role to give Bengals win
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A new role, another new name for Chad Ochocinco.
Cincinnati’s emergency kicker and international soccer fan booted the decisive extra point late in the first half and the Bengals beat the sloppy New England Patriots 7-6 on Thursday night.
‘‘ ’Esteban’ Ochocinco is back, the most interesting footballer in the world,’’ Ochocinco said. ‘‘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.’’
Ochocinco practices kicking but had never done it in a preseason or regular-season game in his eight years with the Bengals, the first seven as Chad Johnson. But when Shayne Graham’s groin felt sore in pregame warmups, coach Marvin Lewis decided to rest the team’s franchise player and see what Ochocinco could do.
He did very well.
After the game, Ochocinco pulled out his PDA and displayed a photo of him with soccer star David Beckham.
‘‘Soccer’s my first love, Kicking’s easy … like riding a bike,’’ he said. ‘‘I can kick them from 50, 60 yards, left or right hash mark. … I kicked all through high school.’’
The Bengals career leader in catches and yards receiving powered the ball through the uprights, a task that can be tough if not done regularly.
‘‘It’s not easy,’’ said Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, who kicked a field goal and extra point on the same field for Miami in a 27-10 loss to New England on Oct. 10, 2004.
‘‘To kick that is something, and he got real good height on it.’’
By that time, Tom Brady was done for the night and backups Kevin O’Connell and Brian Hoyer couldn’t bring the Patriots back in a scoreless second half. But Brady already had shown that he could take a hit after surgery that followed a season-ending left knee injury in last year’s opener.
He was knocked down twice on his 13 snaps, one week after remaining upright on all 24 of his snaps in a 27-25 win at Philadelphia, and got up quickly both times.
Keith Rivers tossed Brady softly after the NFL’s 2007 MVP threw incomplete on his third snap and landed on his back.
‘‘I didn’t notice whether it bothered him,’’ Rivers said. ‘‘It just felt like a normal hit.’’
On the first play of his second and last series, Brady was flattened by left end Robert Geathers, who easily got around right tackle Nick Kaczur and dumped Brady on his left side.
‘‘The good thing is he got up. He got hit good,’’ running back Fred Taylor said. ‘‘He’s tough.’’
Cincinnati scored on J.T. O’Sullivan’s 24-yard pass to Chris Henry with 1:55 left in the half between field goals of 32 and 41 yards by New England’s Stephen Gostkowski.
Then Ochocinco trotted onto the field and lined up behind holder Kevin Huber. The snap, hold and kick all worked as planned.
‘‘Nothing surprises me,’’ O’Sullivan said. ‘‘All joking aside, he still kicked the ball through the uprights and it ended up winning the game. Some people might think it’s funny, but it’s important.’’
Late in the game, the Patriots drove to a first down at the Bengals 12, but Cincinnati’s Marvin White recovered BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ fumble with 3:43 to play
‘‘We were pretty sloppy in every area of the game,’’ Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
O’Sullivan started while Carson Palmer sat out with a right ankle injury suffered in a 17-7 loss to New Orleans in the Bengals exhibition opener. Palmer doesn’t expect to miss the regular-season opener and could return before then.
‘‘Last week we played a finesse team and this week we showed we could compete against a power team,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘That’s mature. I thought we had a good response.’’
Brady proved for the second straight week that his knee injury is behind him although some of his passes were off target, including an overthrow of Welker in the end zone.
Brady went 4-for-8 for 57 yards, including a 32-yard gain on which Welker ran most of the way. He was more productive in the opening 27-25 win at Philadelphia when he threw two scoring passes to Chris Baker.
But Brady was watching from the sideline and could do nothing to overcame Ochocinco’s kick that was the winning point.
‘‘He reminded me of that,’’ Lewis said with a smile.
Notes: O’Sullivan completed 10 of 13 passes for 141 yards. Jordan Palmer, Carson’s younger brother, also played and went 2-for-7 for 45 yards. … Taylor and Welker played for the first time this exhibition season. … Besides Welker, the only non-kicker to make an extra point at Gillette Stadium was the Patriots Doug Flutie, who converted a drop kick for an extra point on Jan. 1, 2006.
Cincinnati 0 7 0 0 — 7
New England 3 3 0 0 — 6
NE—FG Gostkowski 32, 8:58.
Cin—Henry 24 pass from O’Sullivan (Ochocinco kick), 1:55.
NE—FG Gostkowski 41, :27.
First downs 14 20
Total NetYards 346 336
Rushes-yards 35-173 24-108
Passing 173 228
Punt Returns 2-1 4-15
Kickoff Returns 2-49 2-37
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 12-20-0 23-42-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 4-13 4-25
Punts 6-44.0 7-39.3
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 9-70 9-96
Time of Possession 29:51 30:09
RUSHING—Cincinnati, Dorsey 4-60, Leonard 7-34, Benson 10-28, Ja.Johnson 4-22, O’Sullivan 2-15, Lucky 2-12, Scott 5-6, J.Palmer 1-(minus 4). New England, Green-Ellis 10-44, F.Taylor 7-26, O’Connell 2-26, Maroney 3-6, Faulk 1-5, Hoyer 1-1.
PASSING—Cincinnati, O’Sullivan 10-13-0-141, J.Palmer 2-7-0-45. New England, Hoyer 11-19-0-112, O’Connell 8-15-0-84, Brady 4-8-0-57.
RECEIVING—Cincinnati, Henry 4-55, Ochocinco 3-69, Benson 3-25, Coats 1-27, Simpson 1-10. New England, Nunn 4-53, Ventrone 4-39, Green-Ellis 3-5, Faulk 2-37, Galloway 2-19, Welker 1-32, Maroney 1-14, Aiken 1-13, F.Taylor 1-12, C.Taylor 1-10, Lewis 1-9, D.Thomas 1-7, Edelman 1-3.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.