New England Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco didn’t have quite the productive season he envisioned when he signed with the NFL’s AFC champions. But he may wind up with the last laugh. After being mired in the dismal atmosphere with a poor to mediocre Cincinnati Bengals team for most of his career, Ochocinco is in his best position to grab a Super Bowl ring as the Patriots matchup against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.
During the two teams’ media sessions leading up to the Big Game, Ochocinco talked to reporters about what a great opportunity it means for him to be playing in the Super Bowl.
“This playoff run, this Super Bowl is very meaningful,” Ochocinco said. “Many would say it didn’t go the way I would like it, not up to my expectations. Everybody can see that, but I don’t think this season negates a career of what I consider greatness, worth of fun. To get to this point quietly, most people call it bittersweet, but it’s a blessing. People will play this game for years, for years and many names, many greats without having a chance to sniff the Super Bowl.
“To be able to be here, regardless of how this season went is a blessing, period. Especially where I’ve come from, what I’ve been through. To get to this, not just this stage, but the NFL in general. I’m happy. It could be my last one. There’s no reason to hang my head, there’s no reason to be upset. It is what it is and I’m still smiling. I’ve been smiling all year.”
A crafty and very effective mid-range, possession receiver who still has enough juice to burn and blow by wayward defenders, Ochocinco sometimes gets more attention for some of his celebratory antics on the field and his blunt talk. Whether it’s answering tweets on his popular Twitter account or staring down and going head-to-head with ESPN’s First Take bombastic commentator Skip Bayless, Ochocinco always has a way of making people pay attention to him.
Sometimes it’s been a good thing. Sometimes it backfires. Either way, Ochocinco is always true to who he is-good, bad or indifferent. If Ochocinco touches paydirt with a pass score, there’s no telling what’s going to come and how it’s coming down. If he does happen to score a touchdown or two, it will be all good for the Patriots.
“Normally, everybody knows I have crazy celebrations that I do all the time. I’ve been kind of quiet on the celebrations and the production this year, so if I score this Sunday I might do something. It’s the biggest stage.”
The Giants had better pay attention to Ochocinco if they don’t want him to do a highlight celebration on them. Ochocinco is still a capable and dangerous wide receiver that can stretch a defense, despite not getting thrown to a lot during the regular season. He could very well be the difference in this game if the Giants look the other way and dismisses Ochocinco’s effectiveness as a top-tier wideout.
Every Super Bowl has its elements of surprise. Ochocinco could very well be that element for the Patriots. Even though he didn’t get the touches he may have liked throughout the regular season and the postseason, Ochocinco remains the one weapon-on either side of the ball-that can change the complexion of the contest.
Asked if he was disappointed about his production during the season, Ochocinco didn’t blink.
“No. I’m not disappointed at all,” Ochocinco said. “I compared it to a year of marriage. The first year of marriage is always rough, and you have to feel each other out and that’s what we did this year. Going into next year I think it’ll be a lot better.”
It might get better sooner than later. Sure, New England quarterback Tom Brady has Wes Welker and a host of other talented pass catchers at his disposal. But a probable key to a Patriots Super Bowl victory may come down to the production of Ochocinco against the chest-thumping Giants.
The Giants will probably try to jam the Patriots receivers at the line of scrimmage, therefore causing Brady to hold the ball longer and giving New York’s ravenous defensive line time to fire off and disrupt the timing of New England’s explosive offense.
If the Giants’ defensive line has their way against New England’s stellar offensive line, Brady will be in trouble. But if the Patriots’ O-line neutralizes Justin Tuck and company just long enough, a Brady-Ochocinco combination would be difficult for New York to stop. This is where having the luxury of Ochocinco on their sidelines will pay off for the Patriots. At least in one observer’s eyes.
Ochocinco is a superb route runner and has a sneaky speed that can burn the Giants secondary. However it goes, Ochocinco said he will be ready to do what it takes to help his team.
“My mindset is to be the same as it’s always been all year – I’ve been focused,” said Ochocinco. “I’ve just been waiting on those opportunities to come, and when they come I’m trying to make the most of them, and I’m taking that same approach this Sunday. When my number is called, I’m going to do everything I can to get open, make catches, make plays, and we’ll see what happens by the end of the game.”