After returning every punt (that he caught) as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, it was his 97th punt return returning, a towering shot of only 37 yards that could have touched the clouds, that led to an unexpected gesture. It took 96 punt return chances for Adam Jones to wave his hand to declare a fair catch. It was his first fair catch on a punt return since 2006.
However, it was a series of events that led us here... plus a ton of hang time. It was one part bodily harm with a side of fumbling that initiated concern.
With 5:21 remaining in the second quarter, Buccaneers punter Michael Koenan kicked the football 37 yards to the Bengals 36-yard line. Jones caught the football and was RIPPED by linebacker Orie Lemon (who was kind of a pain in Cincinnati's special teams' ass, wasn't he?).
Once Cedric Peerman and the rest of Cincinnati's special teams lifted Jones with a spatula, he walked off the field under his own power.
With 13:16 remaining in the third quarter, Koenan came into the game to punt the football -- because, according to a source, that's what punters do. Jones hovered around the Bengals 43-yard line. While it wasn't the time-shifting shot earlier from Lemon, Jones braced for immediate contact after hauling in the football.
Jones reemerged on the punt return team with 10:32 remaining in the fourth quarter when... this happened:
You can direct some credit to Cincinnati's head coach, who offered some advice.
"I did try to give him advice," said Marvin Lewis during Monday's presser. "Those aren't kicks you can return. We're going to get good field position, so don’t risk yourself getting injured over this thing that you don’t want to fair catch. That’s not smart. We want to play smart football. The other thing about December, let’s play smart. Lets be the smartest football team in December. Lets play smart football now down the stretch. If we do that, and we can execute and do it right, we've got good opportunities ahead."
The key word here is... smart.
Jones returned two punts for zero yards and added a fair catch. Brandon Tate also lost a yard (because that's his thing, y'all).