Cincinnati (AP) — Huge drops of rain pelted the field, falling so hard that players had to blink to protect their eyes. The wind made the yellow uprights on the goal posts bob and weave.
Punt in these conditions? That's exactly what Kevin Huber had to do on
Sunday. With a game on the line, no less.
"That was probably the heaviest (downpour) I've ever been in," the
Bengals punter said. "That was pretty insane that it rained that hard
for that long of a period."
He came up with one of the best punts of his career, sending the ball
57 yards in the air through the driving rain. His kicked pinned the New England Patriots for those final wet minutes of a 13-6 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.
The defense's performance was impressive, ending Tom Brady's streak of
52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Huber's kick was as good as
anything the defense did.
"Oh, man, that was huge for us," defensive tackle Domata Peko said on
Wednesday. "A big punt, and it came at the perfect time. We were going
to give them a short field, but he booted that thing all the way down.
That was amazing, man. It was up there forever."
That he got it off at all was impressive.
The Bengals had a fourth down at their 17-yard line coming out of the
two-minute warning. A storm had just moved in at Paul Brown Stadium.
Big raindrops came down so hard that players felt like they were being
pelted with hail.
Huber jogged onto the field holding a towel, hoping to keep his hands
dry so he didn't fumble the wet ball. He immediately realized that was
"The second I took the towel away, I just got soaked anyway," Huber
said. "I don't even know why I took it out with me."
The goal: Catch it cleanly and get it away without having it blocked or
hitting it off the side of his foot. And try not to let the wind blow
it down a few yards past the line of scrimmage. Every yard was vital at
"The wind was a little bigger factor than the rain," Huber said. "If it
was just a heavy, down-pouring rain, I would have been fine with that
all day. But the wind definitely made it harder."
He got the snap and got it off so smoothly that the ball took off,
cutting through the rain and wind as though it were a sunny day. Even
punt returner Julian Edelman was surprised — he'd expected a much
shorter kick and had to turn and run backward to catch up with it.
He grabbed it at the New England 26-yard line and was run out of bounds
at the 35, leaving the Patriots with too far to go under the worst type
Even Huber was surprised the ball sailed that far.
"It was like a golf shot," he said. "Your best shot, you don't even
feel it. It feels like you're just hitting through air. That's kind of
what it felt like, just a real good, clean hit, a hard hit. I looked up
and saw him turn around and start running, so I knew it was a good hit."
The Patriots had trouble completing passes in the downpour. Several
passes were dropped, and Brady's desperation pass was picked off in the
"We punted just in time for them to get on offense and have all the
rain," Huber said.
NOTES: DE Michael Johnson, who missed the game
because of a concussion, sat out practice on Wednesday. CB Leon Hall
missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, but returned to
practice on a limited basis. Asked if he could play on Sunday at
Buffalo (2-3), Hall said, "I hope so. Two weeks is long enough." ... RT
Andre Smith also was limited in practice Wednesday by a sore shoulder.
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