In their first losing season in six years, one thing that has frequently gone right for the Bengals are kicks.
As in frequently wide right.
Given a chance to beat his hometown Houston Texans on Christmas Eve – the team that drafted and then waived him three games into last season – Randy Bullock pushed a 43 yard field goal attempt as time expired allowing Houston to beat Cincinnati 12-10.
“That was exactly what I wanted,” said Bullock. “Unfortunately, I had the opportunity and I just didn’t take advantage of it. That hurts for me and this team. It was incredibly disappointing.
“I felt like I hit it pretty well. The timing felt off a little bit. I jumped a little bit. We were trying to hold it – unfortunately it affected the kick. That’s on me.”
It was the latest frustrating finish in a season filled with them. Facing the NFL’s top-ranked defense in yards allowed, the Bengals were able to drive from their own 15-yard line to the Houston 25 in the final 3:46, leaving five seconds on the clock to attempt a game-winning field goal. Up to that point, Bullock had made all six of his kicks for Cincinnati (3 FG, 3 PAT) since replacing Mike Nugent two weeks ago.
“I thought we were going to win the game,” said defensive end Wallace Gilberry. “There wasn’t a doubt in my mind.”
“The offense put us in position to win the game and we didn’t make the play there,” said Marvin Lewis. “I feel bad for Randy.”
“He’s been doing a good job the last few weeks since he’s been here,” said cornerback Josh Shaw. “He happened to miss it. It happens. It’s football. We’ve got his back and I’m sure that next time around he’ll make it.”
It seems like a distant memory, but the Bengals opened the season with a fourth quarter comeback, beating the New York Jets 23-22 on a 47-yard field goal by Nugent with :54 seconds remaining. Since then they’ve blown fourth quarter leads to the Broncos, Redskins, Giants, Steelers, and Texans.
“This is probably the sixth or seventh game that we lost by seven points or less,” said wide receiver Brandon LaFell. “Next season we’ve got to find a way to turn those losses into wins. That’s the difference between going to the dance or sitting at home and watching everybody else dance.”
“Last year when I was a rookie we started off 8-0,” said Shaw. “I was like, ‘Whoa, this is what the league is all about.’ I was kind of spoiled last year. But we’ll regroup. This is a good team and we’ve got good coaches. It’s a good organization overall. We have been to the playoffs the last five years before this year and we’ll bounce back.”
Unfortunately, the bounces – and the kicks – haven’t gone their way in 2016.
“I wanted to make that kick regardless of the game scenario or anything like that,” said Bullock. “I have to shake it off and go forward and finish up the season strong against Baltimore.”
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