I suspect that I was behind the mic for the 1127th and final punt of Matt Turk’s NFL career.
With 5:23 left and the Jaguars leading 20-16, the 43-year-old Turk shanked a 22-yard punt into a strong wind that – when combined with a 5-yard penalty – gave the Bengals the ball at the Jacksonville 23-yard line. The NFL’s oldest player averaged 28.3 yards on his three punts in the fourth quarter.
“Turk killed them – he absolutely killed them,” said my broadcast partner Dave Lapham. “Shank you very much.”
But the fact that Turk was punting into the wind in the final quarter was the fault of his head coach Jack Del Rio.
“It was their call in the second half,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “They chose the wind in the third quarter. It was their call and it worked out for us.”
While Del Rio’s choice of direction had dreadful results for the Jaguars, Marvin Lewis made a gutsy call shortly after Turk’s last punt that played a huge part in the win.
The Bengals faced 4th-and-6 at the Jacksonville 19-year line with 3:53 remaining. With two time outs and the two-minute warning remaining, Lewis could have kicked the field goal and tried to get the ball back. But he elected to go for it and Andy Dalton found Jermaine Gresham for a 9-yard gain that kept the drive alive.
“I have to commend whoever made the 4th-and-6 call,” said linebacker Thomas Howard. “It was a great throw by Andy and a better catch by Jermaine. That’s why they pay the person that makes that call the big bucks.”
“We had faith in ourselves and Coach Gruden called a great play,” said right tackle Andre Smith. “We picked up the blitz really well and Andy was able to make a great pass to Gresham.”
It was arguably the most important of the 157 passes that Andy Dalton has thrown – so far – in the the NFL.
“This kid is unflappable – he really is,” said Dave Lapham. “Guts with a capital G is Andy Dalton.”
“It doesn’t surprise us,” said Jermaine Gresham. “We’re with him every day at practice and he shows that all the time. He’s just putting it on film for everyone else in the NFL to see.”
“He commands the huddle, commands our attention, and has that ‘eye of the tiger’ so to speak,” said Andre Smith. “He’s a phenomenal quarterback and I’m really enjoying blocking for him.”
Dalton’s fourth down throw to Gresham gave the Bengals a first down at the 10-yard-line and three plays later, Bernard Scott scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard run.
A game-ending TD on a fumble recovery by Geno Atkins gave Cincinnati a 30-20 win over Jacksonville, improving the Bengals record to 3-2. The Bengals have come-from-behind in the fourth quarter in all three of their wins.
“Coach always talks about winning in the fourth quarter,” said Thomas Howard. “Games are going to be close in the National Football League because everyone is good. The most disciplined team that makes the most plays in the fourth quarter wins the game.”
“The chemistry on this team is really good,” said right guard Bobby Williams. “It’s one of the best things we have going for us. We know it and we don’t plan on losing it. We’re going to stay humble and hungry. Humble and hungry.”
“This team has been fighting really hard and we still haven’t played our best game yet,” said Andy Dalton. “I’m excited about what’s to come.”
Undoubtedly more excited than Matt Turk.
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I hope you’ll join Dave Lapham and me for “Bengals Gameplan” on Wednesday night from 6 to 8 and Artrell Hawkins and me for “Bengals Pep Rally” on Friday afternoon from 3 to 6 live from the Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash. Both shows can be heard on ESPN 1530-AM.
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