When it comes to making the most of your opportunities, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher was a master of the practice Sunday afternoon in the team’s 27-24 overtime win at Buffalo.
After watching the offense’s first 52 snaps from the sideline, Sanzenbacher finally was summoned on to the field for a fourth-and-15 play at the Bills 34 late in the third quarter. Lining up in the slot to the right, Sanzenbacher got behind Buffalo’s Nickell Robey and went up and made a one-handed catch with the Bills’ Jim Leonhard zeroing in from behind.
The Bengals ended up missing a field goal a few plays later, but the Sanzenbacher reception, which was the longest reception of his career, ended up being one of the more memorable highlights of the game.
Sanzenbacher sat down to talk about the catch for this week’s Bengals High Five.
When you extend for a catch like that, how hard is it to not think about the safety closing in on your ribs?
It’s not what I was thinking, but you kind of figure that when you’re going across the middle. But at the same time, when you’ve got a fourth down on the line, you’re going to extend and try to make the catch and then get down as soon as you can. When you play inside enough, you kind of get that awareness and know when you have an extra second.
Is there anything tougher than leaping for a ball over the middle?
It’s a mental thing. You see some big hits, but the majority of the time they don’t happen. When you see it in practice, you’re thinking ‘Oh, he would’ve got blown up on that.’ But in the games it’s more close calls than anything. So if you can get yourself in the state of mind that ‘I’m going to make the play regardless because I’m going to get hit either way,’ it gives you a chance.
What’s that feel like to stand on the sideline the entire game and then the first offensive play that they put you in, you come up with a huge play?
It’s a situation you’ve got to get used to, but it’s tough to be standing there waiting and waiting. It’s part of being in this league. There’s only so many spots and there’s only one ball and a lot of guys want to get their hands on it. You just have to be ready when they call you.
You only got three offensive snaps in the entire game. Did they at least let you stay on the field for the first play after the big catch?
No. I was right back off.
So who was the first person to come up to you on the sideline after the big catch?
I got mobbed a little bit to be honest. The linemen actually met me down field after the catch. And then (cornerback) Terence Newman picked me up when I got over to the sideline. I was like ‘That’s a bit extreme because it’s the middle of the game.’ But that was great. I’ll always remember that.
Bengals (4-2) at Lions (4-2), 1 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 7, 12; 700-AM, 1530-AM, 102.7-FM, 104.7-FM