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.”
Ochocinco trotted onto the field and lined up behind holder Kevin Huber. The snap, hold and kick all worked as planned.
“Nothing surprises me,” Bengal J.T. 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.”