Dan Quinn elected to go for it on fourth-and-five from the Cincinnati 44 in the first quarter. This wasn’t an act of aggression or trying to make a statement early in the game.
It was a desperate move to keep his team afloat in a football game more resembling a basketball game, because his defense could not get a stop.
That inability to get a stop manifested itself all day, and it led to the Bengals getting the game-winning score with just seven seconds remaining when Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green for a 13-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to cap off a 16-play, 75 yard game winning drive.
That pass gave the Bengals a 37-36 win over the Falcons in another shootout at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Bengals improved to 3-1, while Atlanta’s season that began with huge expectations is now sputtering at a 1-3.
Desmond Trufant had an opportunity to come up with a game-sealing interception on the final drive, but it slipped through his fingers to extend the drive.
“I should have gotten that one. It would have ended the game, but we still had a chance to win. I definitely want that one back.” Trufant said.
The halftime statistics told the story of the day. Cincinnati led 28-24 at the intermission, the highest scoring first half of any NFL game this season. Points were scored on seven out of the game’s eight possessions, and the teams were a combined 11-for-12 on third downs with 526 yards of total offense.
The first big defensive sequence of the game came after Keith Tandy blocked a punt to set up first-and-goal for the Falcons at the six.
A false start penalty on Brandon Fusco set the drive going in the wrong direction at the start, and the Bengals used the momentum to force their first three-and-out of the game.
Matt Bryant could only chip in a 28-yard field goal to keep the Bengals up 28-27.
Dalton responded from his four interception performance in Charlotte last week by finishing the game going 29 of 41 with 337 passing yards for three touchdowns, but he made the game’s first crucial mistake when a first down pass sailed into the arms of Damontae Kazee for a critical interception late in the third quarter.
With newfound momentum after his defense shut out an opponent for a quarter for just the second time since the opening quarter of the season, Matt Ryan found a wide open Calvin Ridley for a walk-in 30-yard touchdown to give the Falcons their first lead since the first quarter.
It was Ridley’s sixth receiving touchdown in the last three games, and becoming the third Falcon and sixth overall player in the game to score a touchdown.
Mohamed Sanu emerged after a quiet first three weeks to lead all receivers in the game with 111 receiving yards on six receptions, while Tyler Boyd was the receptions leader with 11.
The Falcons became the first team since the 1966 New York Giants to score at least 36 points in consecutive games and lose both times.
The Bengals are now 3-1 atop the AFC North, and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick spoke about how the Bengals have gelled during their surprising start to the season.
“This one here feels better than pretty much all of them to me, just for the simple fact that it’s a new year, new energy. We have new faces in here. Everybody is bonding well. Right now, it looks like we can’t find ourselves in a bad situation.”
Cincinnati will try to keep that momentum going against the Dolphins next week, while the Falcons will be looking to rebound against another AFC North opponent, Pittsburgh.