No Bengals are heading to the Pro Bowl

By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) — The AFC North champions don’t understand how they can be shut out of the Pro Bowl.

None of the Cincinnati Bengals was voted into the honorary game,

leaving them a little taken aback after the list was announced Tuesday

night. They were the only AFC division champion that failed to have a

player picked — Indianapolis got six, San Diego five and New England

four.

It’s the second straight year that

the Bengals don’t have a Pro Bowl player. The only other AFC team not

represented this season is 3-12 Kansas City.

Bengals players were surprised they all were overlooked.

“I don’t even know what to think about it,” said running back Cedric

Benson, who was a second alternate. “That was a bit surprising. There’s

been a lot of great plays made, a lot of guys have played consistent

for us to be where we are, winning our division.

“So I don’t know. I can’t put my finger on it. I know sometimes it

tends to be the known names in the league get in that thing. That’s all

right. We still have a chance to get to the Super Bowl.”

The NFL has made some significant changes in the Pro Bowl this season.

Instead of holding it after the Super Bowl, it will be played during

the week between the conference championships and the title game.

Nobody involved in the Super Bowl will participate in the Pro Bowl.

“Pro Bowl? Who cares?” said receiver Chad Ochocinco, who has played in

five of them. “I have a chance — we have a chance — at the Lombardi

Trophy. In my eyes, we are all Pro Bowlers. In our fans’ eyes, we’ve

done what we needed to do this year.

“We

know who the Pro Bowlers are on this team, whether we made it or not. I

like the fact we have something else to play for besides that. I’ve

done the Pro Bowl over and over and over, year after year after year,

with nothing else to look forward to.”

The

Bengals figured someone from their defense would get chosen. Cincinnati

has given up the fifth-fewest points in the league and ranks fourth in

yards allowed. Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall are tied for

second in the AFC with six interceptions apiece, making them the

leading Pro Bowl candidates on the team.

“It’s kind of weird that no one made it from our team, being one of the

top defenses,” defensive tackle Domata Peko said. “Like I told you guys

before — I think it was week one or even the preseason — everyone was

doubting us then. Still to this day with the whole Pro Bowl thing,

people are doubting us.”

Quarterback Carson Palmer figured that Joseph or Hall would get their first Pro Bowl selections.

“Very disappointed,” Palmer said. “I’m not surprised. I thought one of

our corners would make it — at least somebody on defense. As good as

our defense is, I can’t believe somebody on defense didn’t make it.”

None of the Bengals offensive players leads the AFC in a statistical

category. Palmer is eighth in passer rating; Benson is fifth in yards

rushing after missing two games; Ochocinco is 11th in catches and yards.

Coach Marvin Lewis found it appropriate that no individual Bengal was honored.

“I guess all year we’ve been talking about this football TEAM, and our

guys realize that,” Lewis said. “We’ve won a lot of games being a

football TEAM. It’s an individual honor, so they just let it go.”

Received 12/30/09 04:59 pm ET