Sunday, September 20, 2009
Updated: September 23, 12:40 PM ET
Ochocinco finds end zone in Green Bay
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Chad Ochocinco made good on his promise. Sort of.
The flamboyant receiver got a chance to do a Lambeau Leap after catching a 13-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter of Cincinnati's 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, even if he did jump into a group of Bengals fans.
"It was pretty cool," he said. "I just wanted to really get the W. The W is the most important because if I leaped and we lost, it's all nullified, it all makes no sense. To be able to do what I do best, which is I'm always running my mouth and making the game fun."
Ochocinco reached the end zone and, after making sure a flag on the play was against the Packers, looked for a place to make his jump with about a half-dozen cameras following him.
He found a soft spot among three Bengals fans sitting together, one wearing a tiger-striped cheesehead in the first row of the northeast corner of the end zone. He was coy with reporters afterward on whether the Leap was coordinated before the game with those fans on Twitter.
"Shhh! I don't want you giving away my secrets," he said.
Ochocinco had pondered this week whether the Packers fans would embrace him and he said he wouldn't be disrespectful of the tradition. The Cincinnati fans certainly enjoyed the leap, but at least one man in a Packers jersey made an obscene gesture that was caught by the cameras.
"If you were paying attention, I did ask as I went down the line. I didn't want to be disrespectful to the Packers, their tradition or their fans," Ochocinco said. "I was asking for a spot. The Bengals fans responded, but the Packers fans -- they weren't happy."
Packers safety LeRoy Butler made the first Lambeau Leap when he received a lateral from Reggie White on a fumble return and reached the end zone on Dec. 26, 1993, against the Raiders. Butler jumped into the arms of fans in the south bleachers in a victory that clinched the first of six straight postseason trips and included a Super Bowl victory in 1997.
Ochocinco told Green Bay reporters earlier this week about an "embrace" he received from Cleveland fans when he jumped into the Browns' "Dawg Pound" section. For that stunt, he got a shower of beer and derision, but at Lambeau, no one appeared to spill anything on him.
"I hope the fans pushed him back out," Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said. "But, if we don't want him to jump into the stands, we've got to keep him out. We can't control what he does if he scores. So, that's our fault."
It was the typical eventful day for the outspoken receiver, who was on his Twitter account around 4 a.m. this morning with his usual dose of information that's equal parts interesting and bizarre. He tweeted that he always gets up very early on game days and said he watched ESPN reruns of college football and Telemundo while waiting for a McDonald's to open, where he later grabbed pancakes and sausage.
Then, Ochocinco hopped on the team bus, sitting beside coach Marvin Lewis as usual for the 25-minute trip from Appleton to the stadium, complaining about a slow police escort while the nerves began to set in.
"Butterflies are the worst right before kickoff and don't go away until you get hit or hit somebody then you relax," he posted a few hours before the game.
It appeared Ochocinco's best chance to score was squandered after he caught a pass from Carson Palmer on a flea flicker with 3:08 left in the second quarter and was tackled at the 6.
Ochocinco appeared to realize just how close he was by putting his hands on his head and signaling to the fans in the north end zone. He'd finally fulfill his promise a quarter later.
"I was just patient and hopefully at some point a play would break," he said, "and it did."