By the time the score stood at 24-24 early on in the fourth quarter, the game had already represented all the inner makings of a shootout in Ford Field.
It took the Bengals just 1:47 to get the airshow started, as Dalton rolled out of a play-fake to throw an 82-yard bomb to A.J. Green. However, the rest of the first quarter was utterly dominated by the Lions. Detroit took the ball on consecutive extended drives to go up 10-7.
The Bengals had a chance to take the lead or tie the game in the second quarter, but a blatant unsportsmanlike conduct call by Gresham led to a missed 47-yard field goal by Mike Nugent, who had nailed the game-winner last week. He would later redeem himself in a huge way. The penalty capped a day of ten yellow flags thrown against the two teams. This particular one was most definitely the worst of the bunch. As Gresham jawed with a Lions defender, the referee came in to break it up, grabbing Gresham’s arm to separate the two of them. It could have ended there, but Gresham decided to yank his arm out of the ref’s grip, throwing his hands up in the air. To be sure, it was a very immature reaction and it should be noted that it could have had a huge impact on the game later on. He would do well to apologize to the team in the locker room.
As Green heated up for the Bengals, so did Calvin Johnson for the Lions. Both players put up monster numbers on the day. Green finished the game with six catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. Megatron reeled in nine catches for 155 yards. He also grabbed two touchdown catches, including a spectacular highlight early in the fourth quarter in which he came down with the football in the midst of three Cincinnnati defenders. It’s also worth mentioning that Marvin Jones had 57 yards receiving on 4 key catches, including a fantastic touchdown in the back of the end zone.
As the receivers had big games, so did the quarterbacks throwing them the ball. Andy Dalton finished with 372 yards on 24-for-34 attempts passing. He also threw 3 touchdowns. Matthew Stafford made Fantasy players smile as well, going 28-for-51 with 357 yards and 3 touchdowns of his own.
The running game never really got going for either team, as the game fell on the pass attack for both sides.
Something to note was the effectiveness of the coach’s challenges on both sides. Marvin Lewis and the coaching staff was 2-2 on challenges in the game, while the Detroit coaching staff was also successful when throwing the red flag once.
With six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Dalton marched the Bengals downfield by attacking the Detroit linebackers, targeting both Gresham and Eifert. Cincinnati was at midfield when the two-minute warning hit, but another Gresham penalty forced the Bengals into a passing situation on 3rd-and-6. The Bengals would punt following a sack by Suh. Nevertheless, the Lions were also forced to punt with time winding down.
Just when overtime seemed likely, two quick passes led to a late Mike Nugent attempt. Whereas his career long was a 55 yarder, he was now set to try from 54 yards with time expiring. And just as he came through in the clutch last week, Nugent saved the Bengals with the pressure at its highest point.
Like the contest against the Bills, this game for the Bengals came down to the very last play, and Bengals fans have to be very pleased with the way their team handled a tough, heated road contest.
That, and Nugent has definitely earned himself some high praise as the Bengals find themselves at 5-2.