The "Ickey Shuffle" was a no-show. And so was the Cincinnati Bengals' offense.
One of the most productive offensive units in the National Football League was shut down Sunday night, as the Bengals lost, 20-16, to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII at Joe Robbie Stadium.The Bengals' post-game news conference was filled with emotion and some tears, as some of the Bengals tried to figure out what happened.
Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason said that he was partly to blame. Offensive tackle Anthony Munoz said that he had a hand in it, too.
They both are right.
Esiason, the league's Most Valuable Player, completed only 11 of 25 passes for 144 yards. He overthrew and underthrew receivers and had one pass intercepted, which set up a San Francisco field goal.
That was when he had time. Esiason was sacked five times for minus-21 yards. He also was hurried at least six other times.
"I felt good throwing the ball," said Esiason, who threw for more than 3,572 yards during the regular season. "I felt great in warm-ups, but a couple of the balls just took off on me. I could stand here and make a lot of excuses, but I won't. I just didn't have it today, and what else can you say?"
Cincinnati Coach San Wyche came to Esiason's defense.
"Maybe the statistics are not capable of showing what Boomer can do, but he called the plays and got us in position to score several times," said Wyche. "No matter what happened here today, he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The 49ers just made some great plays."
During the second half of the regular season and through the playoffs, Cincinnati's offense was built around a running game (169 yards a game) that set up Esiason, mostly on play-action passes.
But Sunday night, the Bengals had a total of 106 yards rushing, most of those by fullback Ickey Woods (79 yards, 20 carries), whose dancing was relegated to finding a hole at the line of scrimmage.