Let’s review some of the events of Sunday’s win at Tampa Bay shall we?
On the first play from scrimmage, the Bengals upchucking quarterback (no, not you Matt Scott), hurls the first of three first half interceptions.
In the second quarter, a red zone sack by Geno Atkins that would have forced the Buccaneers to kick a field goal is negated by a face mask penalty. Two plays later, Tampa Bay scores a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead.
Roughly five minutes after that, the puking passer tosses a cookie into double coverage that is picked off in the end zone.
Near the end of the half after an interception by Terence Newman gives the Bengals the ball at the Tampa Bay 40-yard line, Cincinnati fans universally scream “CALL A TIMEOUT” before the Retching Rifle attempts to heave a pass out of bounds only to have it float into the hands of a Bucs defender.
In the third quarter after finally taking the lead for the first time, the Bengals attempt an onside kick that fails miserably. Even if it had worked, they were penalized for being offsides.
In the fourth quarter, the Rapidly-Recovering Rifle threads the needle between three defenders on third-and-16, only to see the ball dropped 20 yards downfield by the normally sure-handed Mohamed Sanu.
With 1:28 left in the game, Bucs quarterback Josh McCown throws a screen pass to Bobby Rainey with Reggie Nelson in position to make the tackle for a two-yard loss. But Nelson fails to make the stop and Rainey races 29 yards to put Tampa Bay in position for a game-winning field goal.
Did I miss anything?
Oh yeah, despite all of that the Bengals won.
“It’s an ugly win but it goes in the win column,” said my broadcasting partner Dave Lapham. “When you look at the standings there’s no ‘UW’ for ugly win or ‘PL’ for pretty loss. It’s a win or a loss.”
“At the end of the day all you need to win by is one point,” said Andy Dalton. “When you look back on it, it’s a win. This one was pretty crazy.”
And pretty gutsy – pun intended – for Dalton who wasn’t just a little under the weather. As Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson described in great detail, the Bengals quarterback was seriously ill. But in the second half as he began to feel a little better, Andy went 12-for-16 for 114 yards, 1 touchdown, and a passer rating of 115.1.
“I told him after the game – and I don’t even know if it registered because he was pretty sick – I was like, ‘Man, I just really appreciate the way you battled for us,’” said George Iloka.
“I told him that Michael Jordan did it with the flu and you’re no different than him,” said Wallace Gilberry. “My hat goes off to him. He was throwing up before the game and you could look into his eyes and tell that he was not feeling right. He came out and did what he could do and it was up to us to uphold him and we did that.”
With a huge assist from the 2-and-10 Bucs.
Tampa Bay had the ball at the Cincinnati 31-yard line with 44 seconds and no time outs remaining. From there it would have been a 49-yard field goal attempt for Patrick Murray who is 4-for-5 from 50+ this season. But in an attempt to get a little closer, the Bucs tried a running play and center Garrett Gilkey was called for holding. That pushed the Bucs out of field goal range meaning Josh McCown had to pass.
After an incompletion, McCown hit Louis Murphy for what appeared to be a back-breaking 21-yard gain, but Bengals players and coaches quickly realized that the Bucs had 12 men on the field.
“We were having a hard time getting lined up on defense because of the 12th man,” said Marvin Lewis.
“After the play, they still had 12 on the field,” said Carlos Dunlap. “We told the ref to count them and he counted up to 12 so he called the penalty on the current play. Then we asked him to review the last one because they didn’t sub anybody.”
“I didn’t know they had too many players on the field until the coaches were coming off of our sideline talking about it,” said Leon Hall. “I was just basically hoping they were right.”
Hall was not the only Cincinnati player that didn’t see the infraction.
“To be honest with you, I had my eyes closed so I missed it,” said James Wright with a smile.
“Closed because you were praying?” I asked.
“It was in my thoughts,” Wright replied.
“Your prayer was answered, but maybe not the way you were thinking,” I responded.
“I don’t want to waste God’s time, but I’m happy that it happened like that,” Wright said.
The prayers of Bengals Nation were soon answered when the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns all lost to fall a game-and-a-half back in the AFC North. Cincinnati’s brutal slate of December games begins on Sunday at home against Pittsburgh.
“It’s the first time we’ve been home since the bad loss to Cleveland right?” said Iloka. “We owe our fans a good performance.”
That would be nice.
But we’ll all settle for another win.
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