When Chad Johnson joined the NFL, some labeled him as the next big receiver since Randy Moss. Johnson made a reputation for himself with his outlandish behavior on the field, and his celebrations after scoring. His shtick reached a new level last season when he legally changed his last name to "Ochocingo" to formalize his on field personality.
Now Ochocinco has a new trick up his sleeve, kicking. Ochocinco filled in for a an injured Shayne Graham last Thursday night when the Bengals lined up for an extra point. Graham had nursed a nagging injury throughout the week and was sidelined for the game. Bengals punter Kevin Huber assumed kickoff duties, but the team didn't have a proper replacement for Graham.
"He was sore this week in practice and was able to go through practice and feel like he was fine, but obviously he wasn't fine today," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said adter the game. "This wasn't a situation where we needed to have him play today, so we were able to go without him."
Ochocinco's moment came when Cincinnati took a 6-3 lead on a J.T. O'Sullivan to Chris Henry touchdown in the second quarter. The Bengals special teams unit trotted onto the field with No. 85 lined up behind the holder. A perfect snap and hold put the ball in play for Ochocinco who drilled the kick through the uprights.
"'Esteban' Ochocinco is back," Ochocinco said later. "The most interesting footballer in the world. Everyone has to remember, I've always said that soccer is my No. 1 sport. I think [soccer star] Ronaldinho would be proud of me right now."
Ochcinco, ever the self-promoter, may never had a chance to add kicking duties to his resume if the Bengals didn't have a left footed punter as a backup. Though Huber is slated to be Graham's replacement, the team hadn't practiced holding for a left-footed kicker, so they turned to Ochocinco. It wasn't the first time the team needed him, and it may not be the last, according to the Bengals head coach.
"We had that situation arise last year, so it was good for him to get a chance and he hit it good…and his kickoff wasn't bad," Lewis said. "It was a good job. He had the winning points. Ocho strikes again."
Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco (85) kicks a PAT vs New England Patriots Aug 20, 2009 (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick agreed, the kick was the difference in the game, but the kick wouldn't have mattered had Ochocinco not done enough to force the Patriots to roll coverage his direction, opening things up for his teammate Chris Henry on the drive.
"That's Chad. He played well both in the kicking game, which I didn't think I would be talking about that but also as a receiver,' Belichick said after the game. "It doesn't surprise me really. Chad is a great athlete. He has a lot of confidence."
Ochocinco finished with 3 catches for 69 yards, one kickoff for 61 yards and the PAT. Not a bad day for a receiver posing as a kicker.
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