Cincinnati Bengals right guard Kevin Zeitler was having one of the better games of his young career until Miami All-Pro defensive end Cameron Wake slipped past him on third-and-7 in overtime and sacked quarterback Andy Dalton for a game-winning safety Thursday night in Miami.
And if the sting of the 22-20 overtime loss wasn’t bad enough, Zeitler couldn’t resist the urge to jump on Twitter and see what people were saying as the team bus headed to the airport.
Monday afternoon in the locker room, he pulled out his phone and showed a reporter the string of hate tweets he received.
It was a staggering number, one that dwarfed the amount of congratulatory tweets Zeitler received two weeks ago when he completely shut down Detroit All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Or after any of the other solid games he’s had in his two seasons.
Zeitler graciously answered reporters’ questions about the sack immediately after the game, and he did so again Monday for this week’s Bengals High Five.
Did you expect there to be that much personal backlash on Twitter?
I knew it was going to be bad. If it happened to anyone it would be bad. I’m just that lucky guy this time. People even yelled at me at The Banks the next day when I was walking to get food. I had one of my better games and then on the last play I give up a sack and I’m a terrible player. We’re talking about three seconds vs. an entire game.
Does that bother you, or does it motivate you?
Neither, because you realize most of them don’t know what they’re talking about. I mean obviously that last play is very upsetting. You’re thinking, ‘Are you serious? You stopped Cameron Wake how many times this game and then on the last play he gets you? Really?’ But it is what it is. Move on to the next.
There is a high camera angle that shows you on your knees with your hands on your head right after Andy was sacked. Do you remember what you were thinking at that moment?
It was just unbelievable because I didn’t realize Andy was in the end zone when it happened. Then when I saw the official signal safety, the realization hits you. You never expect that. There were 1,000 things that went wrong for us that game, and we still had a chance. And then it ends like that.
A big reason you still had a chance was the run game. How did you get it going so well in the second half after such a poor start?
We didn’t have the ball much in the first half. We knew we could run it, and it showed in the second half. We were good to go. We went up and down the field. Those first two drives of the second half were exhausting. Twelve straight minutes on the field. I don’t think we’ve ever done that before.
What was your weekend off like?
I stayed in my apartment and got a lot of body work done, as far as acupuncture and massages. If we didn’t have three days off after that Thursday game, there’s no human way possible I’d be moving today. I’ve never been that sore in my life. I couldn’t even get out of bed Friday morning.
It’s such a quick turnaround. I felt good the night of, but the day after, man. People sometimes say they feel like they got hit but a truck. I felt like I got hit by two trucks and then one of them backed over me again. My body was just screaming. But the time off really helped. I almost forgot what it was like to have free time. I sat on my couch and turned my Xbox on for the first time in months.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) at Baltimore Ravens (3-5), 1 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 7, 12, 700-AM, 1530-AM, 102.7-FM, 104.7-FM