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3 things we learned about the Bengals

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CINCINNATI — Despite trailing the Seattle Seahawks by 17 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t flinch.

“In our minds, as bad as it looked and as good as Seattle is, we never stopped playing” said tight end Tyler Eifert. “This is what we expect to do. We expect to win.”

Mike Nugent kicked a tying field goal on the final play of regulation then a 42-yard boot with 3:26 remaining in overtime as Cincinnati improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1988 with a 27-24 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.

The last time the Bengals were 5-0 they reached the Super Bowl.

“That was a hell of a fourth and fifth quarter,” said coach Marvin Lewis. “I’m proud of our guys. It’s a long year against a lot of good teams. Today was a good step toward understanding that we can do that all the time.”

Quarterback Andy Dalton passed for 331 yards and two touchdowns and Eifert had eight catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns as the Bengals equaled the second-largest fourth-quarter comeback in franchise history.

“This shows the character and fight in this team,” Dalton said.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked four times and picked off once while passing for 213 yards and a touchdown.

Starting in place of injured Marshawn Lynch, rookie Thomas Rawls rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown for Seattle (2-3), which for three quarters on Sunday looked more like a two-time Super Bowl participant before falling flat.

“I’m baffled a little bit,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “We’re very clear on what we want to do and how to get it done. What’s startling is that it’s not happening.”

Several mistakes seemed destined to haunt Cincinnati on Sunday.

In the first half, the Bengals had a 72-yard TD catch by receiver A.J. Green negated by a holding penalty and Dalton threw an interception with his team in field goal range.

Running back Rex Burkhead’s third-quarter fumble was returned 23 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Bobby Wagner to put Seattle ahead 24-7 in the fourth quarter.

“I think it’s just us having to show up and finish,” said Wagner. “We had a lot of opportunities to close the game out, but we didn’t.”

It was a seemingly insurmountable deficit against a Seattle defense allowing only 17.8 points per game.

But Dalton orchestrated a rally.

He tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Eifert then engineered a methodical five-minute, 49-second drive capped by his five-yard touchdown run to make the score 24-21 with 3:38 left.

With no timeouts remaining, Cincinnati regained possession at its own 18 with 2:17 left and drove for a game-tying 31-yard field goal by Nugent.

“I told our guys ‘This is what we’re built for,'” said Dalton. “We just had to get stops on defense and stay within our offense.”

What we learned about the Bengals:

1. Chalk up Sunday’s comeback victory over the Seattle Seahawks as another sign that QB Andy Dalton is in a different place this season. With his team trailing 24-7 in the fourth quarter, it was Dalton who on the sidelines inspired his defensive teammates to get stops. And, it was Dalton who went 10 of 11 for 105 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. “Andy’s had that (quality),” said coach Marvin Lewis. “That’s what makes Andy tick. It’s rare for him to let one mistake to lead to another. He’s living in the moment and playing in the moment.” Dalton finished the day 30 of 44 for 331 yards and two TDs with an interception.

2. With Seattle effectively shutting down WR A.J. Green in the fourth quarter, four other Bengals responded with 10 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. TE Tyler Eifert’s sliding 25-yard grab in traffic led to the tying field goal. “They put (CB Richard) Sherman on A.J. with safety help,” said QB Andy Dalton. “Other guys were able to get open. I felt like I have complete control of the offense.”

3. Mike Nugent has had an up and down NFL career but he played the role of hero in Sunday’s win over the Seahawks. He hit a pair of clutch kicks including a 31-yarder on the final play of regulation to tie the score and a 42-yard game-winner in overtime. The Ohio State product now is 5-for-7 on field goals this season. “I’m extremely lucky that I have people around me that are very patient,” Nugent said. “It’s a team game. I missed a couple early and the team took care of those misses. Hopefully I made it up for it a little bit today.”

Etc.:

–QB Andy Dalton might be surprising fans and pundits with his play this season, but not his coach. With his team trailing 24-7 in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Dalton responded with 105 passing yards and a touchdown to tie the score. In OT, he completed three passes for 30 yards leading to the game-winning field goal. “Andy’s had that (quality),” said coach Marvin Lewis. “That’s what makes Andy tick. It’s rare for him to let one mistake to lead to another. He’s living in the moment and playing in the moment.” Dalton overcame a slow start to finish 30 of 44 for 331 yards and two TDs with an interception.

–TE Tyler Eifert had eight catches for 90 yards and two TDs on Sunday. He had three catches for 42 yards including a 25-yard sliding grab in traffic which led to the tying field goal. “He has so much ability and unbelievable ball skills,” said QB Andy Dalton.

–WR Mohamed Sanu finished with five catches for 69 yards on Sunday but 48 of those yards and all but one catch came in the fourth quarter helping complete a 17-point comeback. “They put (cornerback Richard) Sherman on A.J. (Green) with safety help,” said quarterback Andy Dalton. “Other guys were able to get open. I felt like I have complete control of the offense.”

–LB Vincent Rey had a team-leading 13 tackles including six solo on Sunday. A couple of Rey’s open-field tackles helped stall Seattle drives as the Bengals rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to win in overtime.


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