Bengals D-Line Dedicates Final Stand to DJ Reader; Another big catch for Tyler Boyd with playoff implications; Jake Browning eclipses the Hall of Fame when he closes the door on Vikes

Bengals D-Line Dedicates Final Stand to DJ Reader;  Another big catch for Tyler Boyd with playoff implications;  Jake Browning eclipses the Hall of Fame when he closes the door on Vikes

Cincinnati kid Sam Hubbard, the Bengals’ left end, had just witnessed one fall into Baycor Stadium lore and like the 66,376 people who watched the 27-24 overtime win over the Vikings, he was trying to process all the heroics befitting a full season of highlights that arrived into the final at 21:49 during their biggest fourth-quarter comeback since 2015.

“Unbelievable play by T (Higgins). I don’t know how TB (Tyler Boyd) caught that ball. The rushing attack. The offensive line. Unbelievable,” Hubbard said, still dressed in front of his locker. “It’s about resilience and effort and…wow…wow.”

How about standing in the middle of Hubbard’s defense with six minutes left in overtime and the Vikings needing just inches on third-and-4 at the Bengals 42? Where a sure conversion would set up a surefire winning field goal because Vikings kicker Greg Joseph only needed another three yards or so?

A defensive line that didn’t have broadcaster DJ Reader’s heart and soul after the Pro Bowl-worthy nose tackle was shut down on the second snap of the game with a quad injury?

“This is our leader. This is my OG. This is my mentor,” said Zach Carter, who was at center, instead, and was next to the ubiquitous BJ Hill. “But we just had to keep playing. We won it for him.”

Hill turned out to be Vikings quarterback Nick Mullins’ worst nightmare on Saturday. Hill robbed the Vikes of another field goal, this one at the end of the first half, when Mullens tried to throw it away as Hill was about to be sacked. However, he threw it away into Hill’s face mask and while Hill was lying on his back he made a juggling interception.

Then about two years later in overtime on third-and-4, Hill said, “We knew what was coming. We knew it was a QB sneak. We knew it was coming.”

Both times, Brandon Powell, the 5-8, 181-pound receiver, tried to shove Brotherly Shove Mullens back by those inches. On fourth down, they fell backwards as the Bengals won the day.

“This is a grown man. Three and four are inches away,” Carter said. “There’s no room, make room. That’s what the coach tells us. ‘There’s no room, make room.’” “We knew it was offside for the midfielder. In this type of play, I think I should be the first one off the ball. I must cause disturbance. “I think on that play we wanted it more than they did.”

Tuberculosis strikes again: This was perhaps the biggest catch Tyler Boyd has had since his fourth-and-12 TD catch from 49 yards out with 44 seconds left on the final snap of the 2017 season that knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs and put the Bills in them.

It was certainly the most exciting for him.

That third-and-9 in overtime on Saturday may have put the Bengals in the playoffs on a 44-yard drive and run to the Vikings 13 to set up the winning points.

It was a scramble drill with quarterback Jake Browning to extend the play as quarterbacks coach Dan Bettcher told him he would have to do against the Vikings’ eight-man drops.

“I was hoping he would pick me up because I was open, but he was under pressure,” Boyd said of his original route into midfield. “I was trying to stay in that area, and there was no one in the area at first. But I went with him so he could see me. I tried to stay the course.”

Browning shot Boyd adjusting his route over the middle as he ran to the Bengals sideline. Boyd’s concentration in a mass of bodies was enormous. When Boyd caught it, he pulled Harry Potter, magically appearing from the crowd to snag it 20 yards from the catch.

How narrow is the Browning window?

“When I caught him, all I could see was T heading straight toward me,” Boyd said. “I thought the ball was going to go to him. I was kind of composed. But I was like, ‘You know what?’ If I get hit, I’ll be on third. ‘Just go and make a play.’

Browning looked completely surprised after his 42nd and final pass of the day.

“There’s not a lot of open play timing when they’re down eight,” Browning said. “He (Boyd) did a good job of coming back at a friendly angle. I think T thought he was getting the ball too, so they crossed it at full speed. TB got the ball, and I think that’s what pushed it home.” Run. The DBs thought Tee was about to catch it, and the other half thought it was TB doing it. Everyone bumped into each other. “I thought he was going to score, but then I was happy (he dropped) ‘He secured the ball. I think if it had been the second quarter, not the end of the game, in that situation, he probably would have scored.’

Even then, Boyd had one catch for eight yards.

“It could go this way,” Boyd said. “I was a little frustrated. The game wasn’t going my way. We have a lot of weapons we can use. Just try to be patient and wait for my number to be called. Start of game. End of game. Anytime.”

Fact check: Yes, this game means a lot to Browning. The former Viking tried to ignore it. But when Evan McPherson kicks the winning field goal and shouts into the camera, “They never should have hurt me,” well, how do you really feel?

“There was definitely a little extra piece (in this game). I remember I got cut there (Minnesota) the last time, and I was just told, ‘Hey, we might have a spot for you on the practice squad.’ Go to the hotel.” “Wait,” Browning said of the 2021 sale day. “I sat in the hotel for a few hours not knowing if I had a job or not, and I got a call from my agent. And they didn’t tell me. I was there for two years. I’ve been there my fair share of times, and this was probably the (worst) one.

“There was more this week. I know I denied it, and there are some great people there. It’s just different. A completely different coaching staff and everything. I want to stress there are some great people there, but this guy felt good.”

Tilts and screens: Defensive tackle B.J. Hill, after his second interception in as many games, walked up to Pro Bowl wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the postgame locker holding his hands in front of his face and told him, “I’ve got hands, I’ve got hands.”

He said: Did you catch another one? …

Chase had his shoulder in a sling and coach Zac Taylor did not have an update on his status against the Steelers on Saturday…

It didn’t seem as serious as what happened to Reader and rookie linebacker DJ Ivey after they were sent away. All Taylor said about those was “I don’t think it’s a positive (result).” …

Meet the Bengals’ first 15 official players. Trey Hendrickson recorded 1.5 sacks on Saturday to give him 15 sacks on the season and break the two-year-old Bengals’ record of 14 sacks. It was the sixth straight game with at least half a sack and he never stopped after an offsides penalty was negated by linebacker Jermaine Pratt. 44-yard pick six midway through the fourth quarter. When the Bengals tied it at 24 with 39 seconds left, Hendrickson made sure it would go after overtime with a sack on the first play after the tying touchdown…

Browning did not break Chad Pennington’s NFL record of 76.9 completion percentage in his first four starts. But 75.9% is a very good percentage and is second best, ahead of Hall of Famer Kurt Warner’s 72.6%….

Running back, fourth-line rebound and total score by Joe Mixon to spoil Coleraine High School and Vikings linebacker Evan Pace Jr. It was his 48th birthday, tying him with Rudy Johnson for second on the Bengals’ all-time list…

Evan McPherson, meet Mike Nugent. The last time the Bengals came back from down by at least 14 in the fourth quarter was against Seattle in Baycor on Oct. 11, 2015. Nugent kicked it in overtime and then won it in overtime. On Saturday, McPherson earned his second overtime win in 12 days after not having one since the 2021 AFC title game. He now has four, including the playoffs, with his first in his NFL debut against these Vikes in their 2021 opener.

“Whenever the game went into overtime, I just thought about my dogs. They were up for so long. I mean I felt bad for them. I wanted to make sure I got the game over early.” McPherson said. “It’s funny, some of my game-winners during my freshman year we had a win against the Jags and we had one against the Jags this year, and the Vikings are the same. It’s kind of funny how things go. I thought everyone did a really good job.” …

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