Cincinnati Bengals Fall to Cowboys, AFC Wildcard Still Possible over Steelers

Kyle Battle@@KayBeeSportsCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2012

The Bengals kept pressure on Tony Romo, but couldn't capitalize when necessary. Cowboys won on a 40 yard last second field goal.
The Bengals kept pressure on Tony Romo, but couldn't capitalize when necessary. Cowboys won on a 40 yard last second field goal.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys started the game out strong, orchestrating a 12-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a Dallas field goal. Tony Romo, who has been playing better as of late, was 4-of-5 on the drive for 47 yards. 

The Cincinnati Bengals started the next drive at the 30-yard line. Following a 19-yard run by RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis and a 37-yard reverse run by WR Marvin Jones, WR Andrew Hawkins ran a play almost identical to the one Jones ran and scored a six-yard touchdown reception. The Bengals led 7-0.

Later in the first quarter, newly acquired K Josh Brown made his first-ever field goal as a Bengal from 25 yards out, bringing the Bengals lead to seven, 10-3.

To start the second quarter, the Cowboys punted the ball. Four plays later, QB Andy Dalton threw an interception to Brandon Carr. DeMarco Murray scored a one-yard touchdown run four plays later. Tie game, 10-10.

The Bengals then went on a 12-play, 66-yard drive that led to a Josh Brown 33-yard field goal. During that drive, Dalton was 3-of-4 for 58 yards. Brian Leonard manned the backfield during this drive and had 11 yards on four carries. The Bengals led 13-10.

The quarter ended with Cowboys QB Tony Romo throwing a jump ball to WR Dwayne Harris that was intercepted by S Reggie Nelson.

The first drive of the second half was a strange one for the Bengals. Dalton started 3-of-3 for 28 yards. The first strange play came after Andy Dalton was sacked. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was seen talking with Bengals OT Andre Smith. There's no word on what was said yet, but it warranted a penalty for the Cowboys.

Two plays later, Dalton found Marvin Jones in the back corner of the end zone, but the play was nullified because of illegal touching, Jones had stepped out of bounds and was the first player to touch the ball. 

Next, Dalton found TE Gresham in the end zone along the seam, but Cowboys S Gerald Sensabaugh made a solid hit before Gresham could pull it in.

On 3rd-and-goal from the seven, A.J. Green dropped a pass at the 5-yard line, leading to another Josh Brown field goal. Bengals led 16-10.

The only other Bengals score in the third quarter was a 52-yard field goal from Brown. Bengals led 19-10 going into the fourth quarter.

Tony Romo stepped his game up in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys had three possessions in the fourth quarter, and two of them ended in scores. One was an eight-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a Dez Bryant 27-yard touchdown reception.

The second was a 13-play, 50-yard drive that ate up the clock and ended with a 40-yard field goal for K Dan Bailey as time expired for a 20-19 Cowboys victory. 

Dalton ended the game 20-of-33, 206 yards, 1TD, 1 INT. BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the rushing attack with 89 yards, his first game in the last four in which he didn't reach 100 yards rushing. 

Marvin Jones had the most receiving yards with 45, but Andrew Hawkins had the most catches with six. Hawkins also caught the only receiving touchdown on a shovel-pass, reverse play from Andy Dalton. A.J. Green chimed in with three catches for 44 yards. 

Defensively, the Bengals held the Cowboys to 49 yards rushing. They came into the game leading the NFL in sacks with 39. Today they added three more with contributions from Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, Reggie Nelson and Carlos Dunlap. 

While this loss wasn't a pretty one for the Bengals, it isn't the end of the world just yet. The Cowboys are streaking right now, having won three of their last four heading into their matchup with the Bengals. Had this loss come against the Chargers last week or the Eagles next week, Bengals fans would have reason to be worried. However, the Cowboys are a decent team that's getting better.

Also, the Bengals have a quick turnaround with a game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. Short weeks are never fun for players or coaches, but this loss to the Cowboys will put the fire under the Bengals that they need to finish the season. 

The only encouraging part about having to turn around and play in four days is that the Bengals will be able to get that aggression out three days sooner. I expect the Bengals will take that mentality into practice and put together another three-game win streak to end the season, pulling off a close game against the Ravens at home in Week 17.