Compiling a list of the top plays against the New England Patriots, obvious nominations can be arranged from Adam Jones' end-zone deflection or game-sealing interception. Or even Andy Dalton's third-and-15 throw to Marvin Jones that gained 28 yards from inside Cincinnati's five-yard line. Any number of plays apply.
But maybe it's the most unlikely player that set in motion Cincinnati's eventual win.
After Wallace Gilberry recorded his second quarterback sack (and first forced fumble that was recovered by the Patriots), New England elected to rely on their defense rather than convert a fourth-and-15 from midfield with 2:40 remaining in the game. Punter Ryan Allen dropped the football on Cincinnati's nine-yard line. Holding with a conservative approach to avoid the mistakes that passing the football can have in Cincinnati, the Bengals called BenJarvus Green-Ellis' number three consecutive times, forcing New England to use two timeouts.
Eventually, the Bengals have fourth and two from their own 17-yard line. Kevin Huber, standing at the two-yard line, crushes his punt, withstanding a torrential rain with heavy winds, 66 yards to the Patriots 26-yard line. The kick sent returner Julian Edelman backwards until he caught the football, returning it nine yards to the 35 where New England began a possession needing 65 yards to tie the game with a touchdown. They wouldn't. And Adam Jones sealed the win with an interception.
Huber spoke to Peter King with Sports Illustrated about the punt.
"Mainly, you want to treat it like any other punt,’’ he said. "I saw they had everyone coming except for one blocker on our gunner and their return man, Edelman. The visibility was okay, and the snap was good. I’m not even thinking about the rain, just the punt. I was trying to get it directionally left, because I know how dangerous a returner Edelman is. When I kicked it, it felt good. It jumped off my foot. Like a good golf shot. They say when you hit a great golf shot, you can hardly feel it and it’s effortless. That’s what this felt like, and so I was pretty happy.’’ When Huber’s left foot contacted the ball, it was at the Bengals’ 6. Edelman kept retreating. Back and back and back, until he had one foot on the 25. Sixty-nine yards in the air, through a monsoon! "I never had one at the end of a game like that,’’ he said.