After a sweep of their AFC North opponents and a division crown last year, the Bengals are looking for more in 2010. A humiliating home defeat to the Jets in the Wild Card round left them with very little to show for their season, save for thousands of Tweets courtesy of social-networking prodigy Chad Ochocinco.
True to form, talk so far centers not on the Patriots, but on Ochocinco's vow to celebrate a touchdown in New England by firing a Minutemen rifle, as is done when the Pats score.
"Ochocinco's got millions of followers," said Marvin Lewis, "but very few believers. I love it when Ochocinco talks strategy, though, like his plans to fire a Minuteman rifle. But let's face it, Chad with a gun is much like his trivial, meaningless updates on Twitter—it's bad news."
In New England, the Patriots are coming off a stinging 33-14 playoff loss to the Ravens, and a strong statement against the AFC North champion Bengals would send a signal loud and clear that the Pats will be a team to be reckoned with. Randy Moss is in a contract year, entering the final year of his four-year deal with the Patriots, and Tom Brady has just signed a four-year, $72 million ($48.5 million guaranteed) extension.
"This may be my last contract year," Moss said. "but it's definitely not my first, which came after my freshman year at Marshall. Ah, the good old days, when you negotiated your own contract. Mine was incentive-laden. We weren't called the 'Thundering Herb' for nothing."
Alas, Moss has expressed unhappiness at not having a contract beyond this year. History tells us that for a physically gifted, but spoiled, athlete such as Moss, it could mean he either puts out or pouts.
Moss does both, balking at the physical play of Cincy corners Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph, but scoring on a spectacular one-yard jump ball from Brady. It's not enough, as the Bengals manhandle the Pats with the AFC North brand of rough-housing from which the Pats shy away.
Cincinnati wins, 24-21.
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