Thursday, November 25, 2010
The Flight Boys vs. the T.Ocho Show
By Rich Cimini
It will be the Flight Boys versus the "T.Ocho" talk show on Thanksgiving night at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
For a game that appears lopsided on paper, the New York Jets-Cincinnati Bengals matchup has several intriguing storylines, and one of them is the battle of the receiving corps.
Welcome to Diva Central.
The Bengals have Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, co-hosts of their own talk show on the Versus network. The Jets' Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes don't have their own show, but they do have a new nickname -- the Flight Boys.
The third Flight Boy is Jerricho Cotchery, but he will sit out his second straight game with a partially torn groin. The receiving trio coined the moniker themselves, going so far as to have customized T-shirts printed. Keeping with the aviation theme, they celebrate touchdowns by spreading their wings ... er, arms, and pretending to fly like jets.
Ochocinco, of course, is notorious for his wacky end-zone celebrations, many of which resulted in fines from the NFL. Owens isn't exactly a wallflower; years ago, he famously pulled a Sharpie from his sock after scoring and signed a football for a fan.
If the game evolves into a shootout, the touchdown celebrations could be a "Can-you-top-this?" contest.
Which tandem is better? On paper, it's a no-brainer, as Owens and Ochocinco have combined for 112 receptions, 1,484 yards and 12 touchdowns -- an average of 13.3 yards per catch.
Edwards and Holmes aren't in that statistical league (60 catches, 1,045 yards, nine touchdowns, 17.4), but that really isn't a fair way to evaluate them because Holmes missed the first four games due to a drug suspension. Also, the Jets' offense is more balanced than that of the Bengals (2-8), who have to throw a lot because they're usually playing catch-up.
On Thursday night, they can settle it on the field.
Ochocinco, for one, is a huge Holmes fan. "Santonio is what he's always been -- clutch," Ochocinco said. "Santonio is no different than giving Kobe Bryant the ball with 2.4 seconds to go with the Lakers. Period. That's what Santonio is. He's clutch at all times. He's always been that way."
Told of Ochocinco's comments, Holmes smiled. "I like that," he said. "I like that a lot."
Holmes has been exceptionally clutch in the last three games. In Detroit, he set up the game-winning field goal in overtime with a 52-yard reception. In Cleveland, he scored the game-winner in OT, a 37-yard catch with 16 seconds left. Against Houston, he scored the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left, a 6-yard grab.
The Jets call it 'Tone Time.
|Ochocinco's bravado hasn't been enough to help the Bengals win.|
"It developed during high school," Holmes said. "A lot of my friends tell me about it. A lot of my coaches I had in high school still talk about the plays I made. In college [at Ohio State], when we needed a big play, Troy Smith wasn't reluctant to look into my eyes and say, 'This ball deserves to go to him.'"
Edwards has been overshadowed by Holmes, but he, too, has emerged as a big-play threat, averaging 18.1 yards per catch. His 42-yarder last Sunday set up Holmes' winner.
The spotlight will be on Owens, who created national headlines by saying this week that Darrelle Revis is "just an average corner to me." Say this for T.O.: After wasting away in Buffalo last season, he seems revitalized at the age of 36. He's among the league leaders in every receiving category, playing like the T.O. of old.
"I'm playing alongside a legend," Ochocinco said of his co-host. "I've gotten a chance to play with one of the best to ever put on a football uniform. Period. I cherish every moment, every game, every bit of influence."
They've done enough talking. Now it's time to put up.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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|Holmes has spread his wings since joining the Jets.|