Wide receiver A.J. Green posted four receptions for 63 yard receiving during Cincinnati's dominating 34-12 win over the Seattle Seahawks in 2011, which included a 43-yard touchdown reception with two minutes remaining in the second quarter. This occasion was the last between Cincinnati and Seattle, who currently features a Cincinnati born quarterback that entered the NFL a year after the Bengals beat the Seahawks on Oct. 30, 2011. It's actually surprising how ineffective Cincinnati's offense was (11 possessions, four scores, five punts, two turnovers) but how easily the Bengals still won -- they converted a 17-3 halftime lead into an easy 34-12 win using rookies and backup running backs.
This was a game played so long ago that Green and Andy Dalton, the face of Cincinnati's "ah shucks" persona, were only rookies. Cornerback Richard Sherman, a fifth-round rookie that year, had yet to become a household name outside of Seattle. Safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor were second-year players. Jeremy Hill, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher were freshman in college. When this game was played, who would have thought Seattle would win a Super Bowl and Cincinnati would qualify for four straight postseasons?
Despite Cincinnati's eventual blowout, Sherman famously called Green overrated in a case of rookie-on-rookie violence. "I would say he's probably one of the most overrated receivers out there," Sherman said on Oct. 30, 2011. "He wasn't anything special. Dalton was a good quarterback. He makes good decisions, but A.J. Green is just a lot of noise talking and bad routes."
A.J. Green played his 64th career regular season game today. Comparing him to Chad Johnson after 64 games: pic.twitter.com/ZnmlnwIaNV— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) October 4, 2015
Granted, Green wasn't particularly great on Oct. 30, 2011, but neither was Sherman. Green secured a five-yard reception from a scrambling Dalton with 7:29 remaining in the first quarter. Seattle played zone coverage and Sherman, on the opposite side of the field, converged on Green after Cincinnati's superstar all-everything receiver completed his crossing pattern.
With 9:38 remaining in the second quarter, Green and Sherman were matched up against each other. Green, from the left slot, ran a cross pattern. When Cincinnati's protection broke down, Dalton, playing the role of Randall Cunningham, scrambled toward the sidelines. By this time, Sherman had stopped trailing Green and attacked Dalton, who launched a fastball to a wide open Green for nine yards.
Five minutes later, with 4:48 remaining on the clock, Green created enough separation during a quick slant to generate six yards with Sherman in coverage. Red Bryant jumped offside two players later, giving Cincinnati a fresh set out of downs. The Bengals reached Seattle's 43-yard line by the two-minute warning when Green sprinted ten yards before faking an inside post before launching vertically towards the endzone, beating all-pro safety Earl Thomas.
Green's touchdown gave the Bengals a comfortable 17-3 lead.
Sherman had his comeuppance with 4:34 remaining in the second quarter, holding an inside position against Green while Andy Dalton applied the school of "what could go wrong" toss to his all-star receiver. Sherman maintained inside position and Green didn't impact the inevitable (offensive pass interference is A-OK in this situation, A.J).
According to Pro Football Focus, Sherman allowed three completions for 25 yards receiving against the Bengals that afternoon. Despite his interception covering Green, Sherman also allowed a touchdown on a quick slant to Jerome Simpson in the first quarter.
This was Simpson's only reception of the afternoon.
Naturally, with Cincinnati hosting Seattle this weekend, the media shoved Sherman's comments down his throat, especially now that Green has accumulated 354 passes during his career, hitting 5,291 yards receiving and 38 touchdown through his first 64 regular season games.
"I remember that," Sherman said about his comments in 2011. "I remember that. That was my first game, wasn't it?" For clarification purposes, this was Sherman's seventh-career game but his first NFL start. "I have a ton of respect for him. Obviously, I was hyped up that day, I'm always hyped up after the game. We've had conversations, and his resume speaks for itself. He's had a fantastic four or five years since we've played him, so you have to give him all the respect."
It's comical Sherman was even asked about comments that he made four years ago. Of course Green has proven himself with four Pro Bowl rosters and Sherman clearly recognizes the enormous threat he's facing this weekend.
In fact, Sherman's comments wasn't even the most incendiary from a Seattle player. Remember Michael Bennett? "Ah, did I do it again? Did I do it again? Gave up the lead," Bennett said in his imitation of Dalton last May, mocking Dalton for just about no reason on live TV.
A response is forthcoming, we're sure of it.