It's not so much that Adam Jones made the play in last year's playoff loss that has haunted Bengals fans for 12 months. That distinction belongs to Chris Crocker. You know, that play.
Instead, Jones just failed to redeem Crocker's embarrassment that afternoon. Following Crocker's dropped interception, Jones let All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson run right past him for the game-clinching touchdown. When the sequence of events led to disaster, we all looked at the beginning and dropped the blame there. We looked at Crocker. But Jones looked at himself.
"I couldn't sleep for a couple of weeks after that game; that double-move," Jones said back then. "I know what I did. I knew what I did wrong with my technique. I took my eyes off him. I've been going over it ever since."
Last year's postseason loss was a sour note in an otherwise sweet, delicious season. The moral victory of a playoff berth was enough considering where the team was often predicted to finish, but moral victories are only accepted for so long. It's a much different landscape this time around. The rookies became sophomores. The injuries aren't so overwhelming and Geno Atkins became Hercules.
And Adam Jones became much more than just a last ditch option in the secondary.
Hobson writes that Pro Football Focus ranked Jones as the 11th-best overall cornerback, seventh-best in pass coverage. Paired with Leon Hall--whose great play this season is itself bordering on incredible given the nature of his injury last season--ol' Pac-Man is motivated to shut down the receiving corps that has occupied his dreams and film sessions since last postseason.
"I've been using that for motivation the whole year," Jones said before Tuesday's practice. "That whole game, I was just screwed up, no excuses. I'll be ready this time. . .I'm not going to let it happen."
Nope. Not this time around, Houston.