How did it happen? How could it happen?
In what actual football universe is it possible for a punter to blast a 57-yard punt into the teeth of a driving, windy rainstorm? Sure, that kind of thing happens in Hollywood all the time, in sports movies where larger-than-life rain drops pelt a stadium while the unthinkable and impossible game-altering moment takes place on the field.
But in Cincinnati? On Sunday afternoon? In one of the biggest games the Bengals have played all season?
Tinseltown and its fictitious heroes have nothing on what Kevin Huber pulled off in Cincinnati's 13-6 win over the New England Patriots.
With about four minutes to go in the ballgame, conditions inside Paul Brown Stadium deteriorated. The once-blue skies had suddenly turned gray, black, green; they seemed angry, too. Eventually, they opened and dumped stunning amounts of rain.
Two minutes later, after the Bengals' offense had unsuccessfully moved the ball in the deluge, Huber and his punt unit jogged onto the field. His mission was the same as it always is whether its a calm, blue-sky day, or an intense snowstorm or a monsoon: kick the ball deep.
That's exactly what he did, lofting his game-long 57-yarder and pinning the Patriots back to their 35, and giving them 1:48 with no timeouts to drive for a game-tying score. As the wind and rain chaotically spun around it, the ball, when it left Huber's leg, never appeared to deviate from the air, line or direction that he wanted it to go. It cut through the air seemingly as if the conditions didn't exist.
And with that as a set up, we begin Tuesday's Morning Stripes:
The reason we had such a long introduction about the punt was because we had to provide a little background before posting this first link. Now you know why Huber stood at his locker for several minutes and answered 33 questions from reporters, including yours truly, about a single punt Monday afternoon. In a game filled with big plays, that punt was one of the most defining and jaw-dropping moments. Take a look at the transcript of the 33 questions, as posted by the Dayton Daily News' Jay Morrison.
Speaking of the absurd and unforeseen, the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr. was curious about the phenomenon surrounding the Bengals' NFL-long 19-game streak of not allowing a quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards on them. As you know by now, Cleveland's Brandon Weeden was the last to do it back in Week 2 of last season. According to Dehner's research, there have been 154 instances of 300-yard passing games in the league since the Bengals saw Weeden last September. There also have been a number of 400-yard passing games, too. He takes a look at those absurd stats in the blog post linked here.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Monday afternoon that he believed cornerback Leon Hall could play Sunday. The veteran was close to returning from his hamstring injury this past Sunday morning, but trainers wanted to give him at least one more week to get fully healthy. He's missed the past two weeks, and has seen his replacements -- Chris Crocker and Adam Jones -- perform admirably in his place. Here's that note and a few others from Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com.
Finally, we'll close out this group of stripes by looking at Joe Reedy's story that ran in Tuesday's Enquirer. Fresh off another defense-dominated game that even defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had to sheepishly admit was called well, the Bengals have already begun turning their focus to a Bills team that features a quarterback who there is very little tape on. Like Cleveland's Brian Hoyer, Buffalo's Thad Lewis has barely played in his four-year career. He has stats for just one game in his career. How might that affect the Bengals who lost to Hoyer earlier this season? We'll soon see what Zimmer cooks up next.
So, now the question is: In the movie about "the punt," who gets to play Huber?
Heck, who gets to play me, the scribe who rubbed his eyes because he couldn't believe what he just saw?
Have a good Tuesday.