As the 41-yard field goal was announced successful, the Cincinnati Bengals left the field knowing they had blown opportunities. In fact, the 20-19 final probably had some recalling bad memories of the Texans' win last year in the closing seconds.
Many fans would say the Bengals wrapped the game up in a box, put a bow on it, and wished the Dallas Cowboys a happy holiday season. That's ceratinly what it looked like.
Dropped passes, penalties (questionable on occasion) at the worst times and overall poor play when it counted the most caused the Bengals to fall to 7-6, ending their four-game winning streak.
Andy Dalton managed 206 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-33 attempts, but also had a pass intercepted and was sacked several times. Andrew Hawkins was on the receiving end of the Bengals’ only touchdown play, but was also the receiver being targeted on two consecutive failed third-down plays in the second half.
The first half appeared to call for a game that would come to the wire, with both teams playing very solid football on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
The Cincinnati defense was repeatedly in the Dallas backfield, and Tony Romo was finding a hard time making plays in the secondary. However, a few miscues in the second half led to a decent day for the stats, as Romo went 25-of-43 for 268 yards and a touchdown.
There were just two things that stood out from a Bengals standpoint. Marvin Jones finally got his chance to show off some of the talent that impressed the Cincinnati coaching staff at the beginning of the season. He picked up 37 yards on an end-around run that led to a touchdown on the Bengals’ first drive. He also caught a first-down throw on 3rd-and-12.
The other bright spot was newly-signed kicker, veteran Josh Brown. He accounted for over half of the Bengals' points this Sunday, hitting field goals of 25 yards and 33 yards in the first half, followed by a notable 53-yarder in the third quarter. He was signed on Thursday after the Bengals held a miniature tryout to temporarily replace injured Mike Nugent (right calf) this week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis ended the game with 89 yards on 12 carries, gathering an average of over seven yards each run. Brian Leonard also saw some action, grabbing 20 yards on six rushing attempts.
Marvin Jones, A.J. Green and Andrew Hawkins split most of the receiving work on the field, getting over 40 yards apiece among some important dropped passes from Dalton.
Chris Crocker nearly intercepted Romo’s pass that was blindly thrown away. Terrence Newman also dropped an interception in the third quarter.
In other words, the kinds of plays that Cincinnati fans will argue should have been made. The kinds of plays that would have altered the game’s winner.
The Steelers loss gives the Bengals hope, as they still control their own destiny with a game against them in Week 16. However, Cincinnati will need to play without the mistakes that plagued it today, as opportunities don’t happen every play.