It was his birthday. He was returning to New England where he began his career. Combine that and Brandon Tate felt the need to do something special on Sunday. Unfortunately, he became a serious liability for the Cincinnati Bengals.
With 1:17 remaining in the second quarter, Tate caught a New England Patriots kickoff six yards deep into the endzone. Instead of taking the knee, Tate returned it 15 yards to the Bengals nine-yard line. A.J. Green fumbled on the ensuing play and New England kicked a field goal with 12 seconds remaining in the first half. Tate returned the opening second half kickoff from five yards deep in the endzone, returning to the 19 -- at least it's peripherally around the 20.
Tom Brady completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with 6:11 remaining in the third. Tate fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which Kyle Arrington returned for a touchdown to give New England a 34-10 lead.
It's just one of those things, it just came out," Tate said via ESPN.com. "I just have to hold onto the ball."
Well, no shit. Tate's performance wasn't friendly... but he has an excuse. Per Coley Harvey with ESPN, Tate was given the green light from special teams coach Darrin Simmons to bring the ball out of the end zone.
"If I can catch the ball in the front without backing up, coach said I can take it," Tate said. "I just have to hold onto the ball if I am going to take that chance."
If that's the case, then Simmons had a bad night as well.
Allowing Tate to continue returning kickoffs out of the end zone, the Bengals are sticklers with the idea of using Adam Jones on punt returns. Jones returned his lone punt 47 yards (Patriots punted three times), eventually leading to a Bengals score. Why the Bengals don't use Jones, who only played half of the team's defensive snaps on Sunday, on more punt returns is a question worthy of investigation.