INDIANAPOLIS - The last thing
He executed a perfect onside kick with 2:35 left and the Bengals trailing the Colts, 23-17, Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. But the result was tragic. As the Bengals celebrated the recovery after linebacker
Nugent lined up between two sets of players split wide to either side and he ran up to the ball aimed to the left before changing direction and hitting it right.
“The ball was on its way and I kind of cut back to take a guy and that’s when it happened,” said Nugent, who said he felt the knee go before he made any contact in the scrum.
After the game Nugent was on crutches, and the fear is that he has suffered an ACL and MCL injury.
"It doesn't look good," Nugent said.
Before rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham fumbled the ball away on the next snap, head coach Marvin Lewis had an animated discussion with Ochocinco while presumably telling him he was going to kick the winning extra point when the Bengals tied it.
“Easy money,’” said The Ocho, who kicked the deciding point in a 2009 preseason game in New England when Shayne Graham got hurt.
If Nugent is indeed out for the year, the Bengals need a kicker and quickly. Dave Rayner, who lost the training camp battle to Nugent, just signed in Detroit. Graham just hooked on with New England.
Some big-time kickers have come back from an ACL injury, such as John Kasay and Joe Nedney.
DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD: Gresham had a career-high nine catches for 85 yards, all in the fourth quarter, including a 19-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 23-17 with 2:35 left. But it was a fourth quarter he’d like to forget. On the next snap he fumbled the ball at the Colts 34 when he refused to go down.
“In the last two minutes,” he said. “I’ve got to get down.”
He’ll also learn that the man that forced it, Colts right end Dwight Freeney, leads the NFL in forced fumbles over the last several years.
Gresham also took the blame for quarterback
“It was a read route and I read it wrong,” Gresham said. “Put that on me, not Carson.”
BLAME GAME: Everybody took the blame. Palmer took the blame for all three of his picks. Wide receiver
“It’s commendable for Carson,” Owens said. “But it’s not all his fault.”
It looked like Palmer got hit on the first interception that got returned for a touchdown and that he was forced out of the pocket on the Gresham pick. But he said, “I didn’t get touched all day until the last couple of plays ... the protection was great. ... We did what nobody does and came in here and blocked their ends.”
Palmer was sacked three times, but the NFL’s best sack tandem of Freeney and Robert Mathis didn’t get him until the third to last play and second to last play. The Bengals chipped with their tight ends and backs to help the tackles block.
Asked if his arm had anything to do with the interceptions, Palmer said his arm was fine.
"I felt great all game," he said.
CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE: Left tackle
“Guys start to lose their confidence and it makes it tougher to have success,” Whitworth said. “We’ve got to get our confidence back. We’ve got to get guys smiling and enjoying this game and play it like they know we can play.”
SIMPLE FIX?: After another game his offense failed to score three touchdowns (that’s for the sixth time in nine games), a season-low 72 yards rushing and a season-high five turnovers, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis sounded like he wants to make it simpler.
"We have to understand it and see it together and that’s kind of where we are right now,” Lewis said. “I have to look at it. Are we trying to do too much and maybe look at that. Maybe too much variety at times. The different looks that occur. We need to see them through the same eyes.”
The most disappointing thing besides the misconnection in the passing game is the inability to run the ball against a small unit that is fourth worst in the NFL stopping the run. The Bengals rolled out their heavy packages and double tight ends. Tackle
But running back
“They put both safeties down in the box,” Whitworth said. “How many times did the safety make the tackle? When that happens you think the ball would get spit out at some time with those people in the box and it never did. They semed to have the right people in the right places.”
BAPTISIM BY FIRE: Safety
It was only the second game this season that Manning didn't have a touchdown pass and only the 10th time in the last 61 regular-seson games. Murray, who saw wide receiver Reggie Wayne in the slot plenty, helped hold the NFL receptions leader to three catches for 34 yards.