The bloke choked.
I wish I could take credit for that English-accented line, but @BruceCahill tweeted it after Dustin Hopkins’ 34-yard overtime shank allowed the Bengals to fly home from London with a 27-all tie against the Washington Redskins.
“It’s a weird feeling,” said Domata Peko. “I’m happy we didn’t lose, but we traveled all this way to get a ‘W’ and we didn’t get it.”
“It’s not a win or a loss, but it feels more like a loss to me,” said Margus Hunt.
It briefly appeared that it was a loss when Hopkins’ first game-winning attempt split the uprights. But Marvin Lewis called a time out to ‘ice’ the kicker moments before he struck the ball and his second attempt veered wide left.
“I’m glad Marvin called time out because I wasn’t watching the first one,” said Jeremy Hill. “The agony was killing me.”
“It was perfect,” said Adam Jones of the time out. “That’s why he’s the head coach.”
Unfortunately, the Bengals might have won if not for a costly missed kick of their own.
Since the NFL moved the distance of PATs back by 12 yards last season, Mike Nugent had been nearly perfect, making 63 of 64 though the first half of Sunday’s game in London. But he hooked one after Tyler Eifert’s third quarter touchdown catch, giving the Redskins the opportunity to force overtime with a late field goal.
“I think today is on the kicker,” Nugent told me. “You’ve got to be able to make a 33-yard extra point. Yeah, it was at an earlier point in the game, but it counts in the end.”
Nugent started the year with a 47-yard game-winning field goal with 54 seconds remaining in the season opener and hit 13 of 15 field goal attempts in the first six weeks. But last week against Cleveland he missed 40 and 45 yard attempts, and Mike missed a 51-yard field goal try in addition to the extra point against Washington.
“Every kick that I’ve missed in the last few weeks felt very good coming off my foot,” said Nugent. “So it’s one of those things where I really have to study and try to get better. You have to learn from misses. Obviously you want to forget about them, but you have to learn from them and strive to be better.”
“Nobody hates it as much as Mike does,” said special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons earlier this week. “He’s had stuff like this happen to him in the past and he’ll be back. I have full confidence that Mike will be fine.”
Nugent took little solace from the fact that Hopkins’ OT miss allowed the Bengals to avoid a loss.
“I know exactly how he feels,” said Nugent. “I did the exact same thing against Carolina in 2014. It’s not a good feeling. But I just have to worry about how I’m hitting the ball and I have to be able to finish for my team. The last two weeks I’m just not finishing.
“I’ve got to be able to come through for my team because the offense works so hard to get down the field and the defense works so hard to get us field position. It’s not a good feeling when you don’t come through.”
Especially when your team travels thousands of miles and plays 15 extra minutes only to come away with a tie.
“It was a war,” said Andrew Whitworth. “I thought both teams played well and both teams made some mistakes. That was a heck of a football game. It’s unfortunate not to win it.”
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