(The Sports Xchange) - 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 and 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 TDs 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 TD pass to Eifert and then engineered a methodical five-minute, 49-second drive capped by his five-yard TD 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.”
Carroll, meanwhile, struggled to explain his team’s fourth-quarter fade.
“We didn’t change anything and we were still mixing it up,” said Carroll. “I feel good about how we ran the football. We didn’t leave that. We didn’t curl up and not try to throw it either. We just didn’t convert.”
Editing by Andrew Both