Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor still can’t believe how crazy it was that his team was able to come back and force overtime like it did Sunday at Miami.
The Bengals ultimately lost 38-35 on a last-second field goal in overtime, but no team in NFL history had ever scored 16 points in the final 29 seconds before that.
Cincinnati (1-14) was down 35-12 before stringing together 23 consecutive points over the final 6:11 of regulation, including a 25-yard pass from Andy Dalton to Tyler Eifert as time expired and a Dalton run for the game-tying two-point conversion. Jordan Evans recovered an onside kick following a Tyler Boyd touchdown with 29 seconds left to set up the final drive.
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“To complete the ball where we do, outside the 25-yard line last play of the game, it really did (seem crazy),” Taylor said in his weekly Monday press conference at Paul Brown Stadium. “At this point in the NFL, recovering an onside kick is really the most remarkable thing in the whole thing. Just the chances of that happening are not good, so for Randy (Bullock) to hit it like he did and for Stanley (Morgan) to make the (tip) play like he did to keep the thing alive … and for Jordan Evans to come up with it — I’m standing right there and it felt like the ball was on the ground for an hour. Then you watch the tape and he just tipped it and recovered it immediately, but it didn’t feel that way when I watched it live. Just remarkable the effort the guys gave. Certainly some moments you will look back on and be fond of, but ultimately we will remember we didn’t get it done.”
That’s because the Bengals have fallen short so many times before despite some valiant efforts to come back. Eight of their 14 losses this season were decided by eight points or less, including a loss at Cleveland, which Cincinnati will try to avenge in the finale Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Miami was among the teams still in the mix for the league’s worst record and top overall draft pick until Sunday’s result. The Bengals clinched both those things with the loss.
“We fought our way back, so when you don’t win it, you’re almost a little confused, to be quite frank with you,” Taylor said. “The way we fought back, got in it, you’re so convinced you are going to win, and then when it doesn’t happen you’re just trying to process all the emotions. So I have a hard time finding many victories in that. We’ve got to come to a point where we are past all that. We need to start winning these football games, winning these situations, and I certainly respect the hell out of our guys for getting us back in that thing, you’re not giving up when a lot of people probably did outside of our sidelines, but we have to find ways to win those games.”
No one can claim the Bengals were trying to lose that game in order to secure the top draft pick, certainly not when looking at the individual play of a guy like Boyd.
Boyd finished with 128 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches, but he could have ended the game with four seconds left when he was injured making a 29-yard catch. Instead of staying on the ground and forcing a 10-second clock run off for injury time, he crawled up to the line of scrimmage and Dalton was able to spike the ball to get set for one last play.
“If he doesn’t get up, 10-second run off and it’s over,” Taylor said. “For him to get up, put himself in position and get off the field for the next play was remarkable for him and the guys around him.”
“We talk about what a Bengal is, a physical, hungry, accountable teammate who is willing to give his all to get the job done,” Taylor added. “I saw that so many times yesterday, on the road in a game that we could have been out of early and we didn’t (give up) and fought to the very end, and those are the things we have to continue build on.”
The Bengals had several injuries occur during the game. Will Jackson re-injured his shoulder and was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday, Morgan and Tony McRae are in concussion protocol, and Cincinnati will finally put A.J. Green on injured/reserve to allow for the addition of players to the roster in a week there are so many questionable injuries.
Green has missed the entire season with an ankle injury despite hopes he might return in the first half of the season and at worst after the bye. Setbacks with swelling have prevented him from practicing since a Week 10 walk-through.
“Nothing is unbelievable anymore,” Taylor said of the situation. “You just have to take each thing as it comes, just not get overwhelmed and just keep persevering through them. A.J. has done everything he could to get back and he just wasn’t able to do it this year. The time off these next couple weeks will certainly help him. We’ll figure the other stuff out later, but that’s just the way it’s been.”
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