Bullock’s kick lifts Bengals

By Del Duduit

(CINCINNATI) – The Cincinnati Bengals offense is similar to a typical Ohio fall day in October—hot one minute and cold the next.

The Bengals whipped off 307 yards in the first half of Sunday’s home game against Tampa. Then the offense sputtered and produced 95 yards but held on to win 37-34.

Randy Bullock nailed a 44-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to secure the Cincinnati win.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he was pleased with the victory, but he’s not happy with the way his team performed in the second half.

The offensive unit did not earn a first down until 4: 58 remained in the final quarter.

On the other hand, the Tampa Bay offense came to life after Quarterback Jameis Winston was benched after his fourth interception, which was returned for a touchdown by Bengals defensive back Jessie Bates.

The Buccaneers went to journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick who guided a furious fourth-quarter comeback and tied the game near the end of regulation.

But Andy Dalton connected with A.J. Green for gains of 23 and nine yards to put the Bengals in field goal range with seconds remaining.

“Obviously we wish we had played better in the second half and made the game a little bit easier than having to drive down and kick a field goal with no time left,” he said after the game. “We had too many three and out drives, so from that standpoint, it’s disappointing. But we won. To be 5-3 now is huge.”

Cincinnati linebacker Vinny Rey agreed with Dalton’s analysis of the team’s record going into a bye-week.

“If you’re 5-3, you have a 70 percent chance of making the playoffs. If you’re 4-4, it’s down to 31 percent,’’ he said. “I like our odds right now.”

But if the Bengals have hopes of making a run at the playoffs, they need to stay consistent on the offensive side.

They got off to a flurry and took a 27-9 lead into the half. Joe Mixon had two scoring runs while Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green caught TD tosses from Dalton, who finished the game with 280 yards in the air and completed 21 of 34 passes.

“We have some work to do and find a way to keep the rhythm going for the entire game,” Lewis added. “We need to address that over the next several days.”

On the other side, Tampa Bay (3-4) is now faced with a quarterback controversy. Fitzpatrick started the first two games and produced wins. The team inserted Winston back into the lineup, and he has committed 14 turnovers in four games and has four losses.

Fitzpatrick went 11-15 and had 194 yards and two touchdowns in the few moments he played Sunday—not to mention the dramatic comeback that nearly sent the game into overtime.

Tampa Bay will travel to play the Panthers next Sunday while Cincinnati has plenty of time to prepare for its next home game against New Orleans on Nov. 11.

By Del Duduit