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Quick hits: Bengals get second wind

Posted Nov 19, 2017

Dre Kirkpatrick made history Sunday when the Bengals won in Denver for the first time in 42 years.

DENVER - Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick had a wide smile on his face even though he didn’t finish off his 101-yard interception return for a touchdown in Sunday’s 20-17 victory over the Broncos. It’s the longest interception return in history that didn't go for a touchdown.

“Breathe!” said Kirkpatrick when asked what he was thinking during the cross country dash in the Mile High altitude. “Breathe!”

Kirkpatrick said he saw the play all week and linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Vincent Rey remember Kirkpatrick saying was going to intercept what is known as a pick route.

“I just waited for it to come to me,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick bobbled the ball at about the 10-yard line when he looked back to see two Broncos gaining on him.

“They were coming from both sides,” he said. “I thought one of them poked it out.”

The fourth longest play in Bengals history had a happy ending. Kirkpatrick fell on the fumble at the 1, where quarterback Andy Dalton hit tight end Tyler Kroft all alone on a play-action fake to give the Bengals a 6-0 lead with 7:06 left in the first quarter …

“I looked up and at one time I was two–for-three for no yards and a touchdown,” Dalton said. “Anyway you score.” …

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict successfully lobbied to move from the middle back to his regular spot on the outside at WILL and came up with his best game of the year with 12 tackles and forced Broncos running back C.J. Anderson's fumble at the Denver 44 with 12:13 left in the game that set up the winning points.  

But he was only at WILL until the middle of the second quarter, when Rey went down with a hamstring injury. Burfict went back to the middle and rookie Jordan Evans went to WILL.  

“I like that,” Burfict said. “Jordan is fast.”

-Burfict said what his mates were saying now that they’re 4-6 and a game out of the Wild Card.

“Don’t count us out,” Burfict said.

-Cornerback KeiVarae Russell blocked Brandon McManus’ 61-yard field goal try at the end of the first half and that turned out to be huge. He said he won a bunch of dinners during the week because he said he made a bunch of bets he would get one coming off the left edge.

“They do it quick,” Russell said. “When the holder turns his head, I knew they were going to snap it.” He also said after the first one was good but negated by a Marvin Lewis time out, he knew they wouldn’t change the cadence. It was going to be quick again.

“They never go on two,” Russell said.

-Dalton threw all three TDs on third down. He threw for first downs on three others passes. But it was his zone read keeper with 4:09 left for six yards on third-and-three that may have been the biggest of all Sunday because the Bengals were then able to drain the clock to the two-minutte warning.

Dalton read llinebacker Von Miller on the edge and when he went for rookie running back Joe Mixon, Dalton was off.

"Just like at TCU," Dalton said of his college days.

-Green and Dalton hooked up for their 50th touchdown connection, one behind the franchise-leading duo of Ken Anderson and Isaac Curtis. Making the score 20-10 with 8:56 left in the game, you won’t find many bigger.

The play came on third-and-two from the Denver 18 and they needed it badly. Dalton had the matchup he wanted, Green on Roby in a pure one-on-one but he had to take a timeout with the play clock ticking out. Head coach Marvin Lewis also wanted a timeout since he didn’t want Broncos sack ace Von Miller getting a head start with a dwindling clock his ally.

When they re-convened from the timeout, same play.

“We don’t have to change the play,” Green said. “They were man up on me. When we see man, when we see press, throw it right there.”

It was one of seven third-down conversions after making six combined the previous three games. After making two in the last two games, Dalton threw three third-down TDs.

“It’s big. That was big,” Green said. “Our Achilles’ heel this season has been third down, so this week in practice we honed in on it. Every guy was accountable saying, ‘I’ve got to make this play, I’ve got to make this play.’ And that’s what we did.”

-One of those guys was wide receiver Alex Erickson, who scored his first NFL touchdown on Dalton’s 29-yard floater as Erickson ran by the picked-on Roby. Dalton got him the ball the twice. After Erickson spiked it, he was looking for it so he could keep it and Dalton handed it to him.

“About time I was saying to myself,” said Erickson, a second-year player in his 26th NFL game. “It’s hard to get in that end zone. It’s tough.”

-No one can be surprised that a very fired-up Domata Peko led the way against his old mates with a team-high six tackles. Plus, he was one of Denver’s game captains.

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