CINCINNATI – If there was ever an NFL game that deserved to end in a tie, it was Sunday’s comedy of kicking errors between the Bengals and Green Bay at Paul Brown Stadium.
Neither team appeared to want to claim victory, but Packer kicker Mason Crosby nailed a 49-yard game-winning field goal in overtime as Green Bay finally won 25-22.
Crosby, who may have kept his job by connecting on the kick, missed three earlier attempts and one extra point in The Jungle.
The veteran kicker missed a 36-yard attempt with 2:21 to go in the game, and one from 51 yards on the final play of regulation.
Then he missed one from 40 yards out in overtime.
Two of the field goals would have won the game.
Cincinnati’ kicker Evan McPherson also plunked one off the upright from 57 yards out late in the fourth quarter, and then missed from 49 yards in the extra period.
Last week, McPherson came through in the clutch and kicked the 35-yard game-winner over Jacksonville on Sept. 30.
But not on Sunday.
“In a game where it didn’t seem like anybody wanted to win it, it feels good to be 4-1,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “We are a gritty team — to win the way we’ve been winning — it wasn’t pretty today but we got out of here with a win.”
Rodgers was calm and collected throughout, and posted 344 passing yards on a 27-of-39 performance with two TDs and one interception with a 102.9 passer rating.
In the final 2:12 of regulation plus overtime, both teams missed five field-goal attempts.
McPherson thought his 49-yard attempt in overtime was good, until it curved and grazed the flag at the top of the left upright.
“I honestly, I was celebrating before the ball, I guess, curved to the left. But for me, what I saw was that I struck the ball really well,” he said. “And I saw it going right down the middle. I guess you could say I kind of know whenever it’s going to go in. That was one of those moments. I was celebrating with (kick holder) Kevin (Huber) when it hit a hard left.”
Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow was taken to a Cincinnati-area hospital after the game with what the Bengals described as a potential throat “contusion.”
With 6:13 to play in the second quarter, Burrow was tackled hard when he scrambled and tried to get a first down.
He was on The Jungle turf for a few minutes and then trotted off under his own power.
He finished the game with 281 yards in the air, and connected on 26 of 38 attempts with two touchdowns and two picks.
Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor admitted he was worried when he saw No. 9 on the ground.
“You just don’t know what it is,” he said. “You don’t know if he gets the wind knocked out of him or what. I just tried not to let myself think of anything and just get over there and assess the situation. It happens with a lot of guys – a lot of guys are down and end up getting up. So, I just don’t let my mind go there. He got up and he was good.”
The bright spot from Sunday’s loss was the performance of Ja’Marr Chase.
The rookie receiver from LSU set a Bengals rookie record with six catches for 159 yards and one touchdown.
“We played our hearts out today,” he said. “We just have to let this game go and go onto the next game on the road.”
Chase’s counterpart for Green Bay also had a banner day.
Wide receiver Davante Adams hauled down 11 catches for 206 yards and one touchdown.
“It’s hard to double somebody like that when he’s the best receiver in the league and he just showed why,” Taylor said about Adams. “He gets so much separation which makes his routes down the field that much easier.”
Cincinnati (3-2) heads north to Detroit on Sunday, while the Packers play the Bears in Chicago.
“We expected to win this game going into it, and we expected as it played out,” Taylor added. We didn’t need a moral victory to show us that we’re capable of beating great teams in this league. We just want to win them.”
Ten days ago, McPherson was the hero.
On Sunday, he had chances to win the game, but was not able to produce.
“I’m upset about it,” he said. “But there’s really nothing I can do about it now, just kind of move on to Detroit and the next kick.”
In Sunday’s comedy of kicking errors, Green Bay got the last laugh.
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Del Duduit covers the Bengals for the Daily Times.