Bengals and Redskins battle to a tie at Wembley

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LONDON - In the War of Wembley that saw the first overtime game in the 10-year history of the NFL's international series, the Bengals and Redskins battled to a tie after a dramatic extra period that included a missed would-be game-winning field goal and a key fumble. 

A Kirk Cousins attempt at a Hail Mary on fourth down fell incomplete as time expired, sealing a 27-27 final score — the second tie in the NFL this season — and bringing the Bengals' record to 3-4-1 heading into their bye week.

"Obviously, not winning the football game, there's disappointment," Lewis told reporters postgame. "We had opportunities on both sides of the football to win the game. For the time and energy and everything invested in it, that's what you want to get. So there's some disappointment in there."

With 2:09 remaining in overtime, the Bengals had begun their march with a four-yard completion to Tyler Eifert and a pair of nine yarders to rookie Tyler Boyd. But an Andy Dalton fumble on a quarterback sneak on third-and-one from the Cincinnati 46 yielded a Washington recovery with 1:11 to play.

"I don't really even know what happened," Dalton told reporters after the game. "I tried to get my second hand on it, and it got ripped out."

A 10-yard offensive pass interference penalty on Pierre Garcon on Washington's first play of the drive spelled first-and-20 from their own 43. With time running down, the Bengals defense held, ultimately forcing the Cousins incompletion as time expired. 

The extra period started with a Redskins drive that stalled at the Bengals' 45, followed by a Bengals drive that reached as far as the Washington 40 but was thwarted by an eight-yard sack on third down. After a Darqueze Dennard fair catch interference penalty on the ensuing punt, the Redskins drove 62 yards, 39 of which came on four combined catches by Garcon and TE Jordan Reed, to set up a 34-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal attempt for the win. But the kick sailed wide left, giving the Bengals new life.

Dalton's fumble on the ensuing drive closed the door on a possible Bengals game-winning drive. But the defense, which surrendered 546 yards of offense on the day, stood tall when it counted and prevented the Redskins from advancing any farther, sealing the 27-27 tie.

"We had so many opportunities in this one that could allow us to win the game," Dalton said. "We weren't able to make the play. I had a big part in that. Obviously the fumble at the end, the last drive of the fourth quarter that we had.

"Again, opportunities, but just let it slip away."

Before his missed kick in overtime, Hopkins did manage to help send the game into the extra period with a clutch 40-yard field goal with 1:07 remaining in regulation, knotting the contest at 27. The field goal capped a 45-yard Redskins drive, and the Washington defense was then able to stop the Bengals' last minute drive, sealing a tie at the end of regulation with a Su'a Cravens sack of Andy Dalton on third and 10 from the Cincinnati 43.

Cincinnati had taken a 27-24 lead with 6:54 left in the fourth on running back Jeremy Hill's one-yard touchdown run, set up by wide receiver A.J. Green's delicious 39-yard one-handed-over-the-shoulder catch working against Washington cornerback Josh Norman. Despite having only one catch at halftime, Green ended his day with a team-high nine receptions for a game-leading 121 yards.

"A.J. is the best receiver in this league," Dalton said when asked about Green's matchup with one of the game's top corners in Washington's Josh Norman. "Anybody that's out there, you know, A.J. is going to do his thing."

After getting a stop, the Bengals tried to kill the clock but had to punt with 3:15 left. Then, when Kevin Huber hit a line drive, Washington's Jamison Crowder was able to run it to his own 33. Cousins then put Washington on the march, driving them to the Bengals 42.

Pressed by a Washington blitz from the slot, Dalton threw his first interception in 165 passes when he couldn't connect with Eifert over the middle and sailed it by short-arming it into the arms of linebacker Will Compton at the Washington 17.

Then the massive display of tight ends rolled on. Cousins, who finished 38 of 56 for 458 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception, hit Vernon Davis over the middle for 26 yards. He then he found wide receiver Jamison Crowder wide open  for a 30-yard touchdown catch, as Washington regained the lead with 9:30 left in the game, 24-20.

Dalton, unleashing the pass just before blitzing cornerback Kendall Fuller drilled him, re-discovered his favorite red-zone target on the first drive of the second half, when Eifert made a leaping catch for a 15-yard touchdown that gave the Bengals a 13-10 lead four minutes into the half.

Before scoring his first touchdown of the season, Eifert converted a third-and-four to keep the drive going. Wide receiver A.J. Green, who along with his game-high 121 receiving yards also drew five penalties (three accepted) in his mammoth matchup with Norman, notched two catches on the drive, including a big one — a massive second-and-third-and-fourth effort on a screen pass that got 11 yards on third-and-10 from the Washington 42.

But a very big point was left on the board when Mike Nugent missed his first extra point of the season after missing a 51-yard field-goal attempt in the first half.

The Bengals got the ball right back on a three-and-out, fueled by defensive tackle Geno Atkins' first sack in October. Dalton then conducted a surgical 63-yard scoring drive. He found Eifert on third-and-three over the middle, with Eifert holding on to the ball after taking a heavy shot.

Then, when Norman got hurt defending Green on a deep ball, Green converted a third-and-three working on Norman's backup Quinton Dunbar and added a sliding 10-yard catch that set up Dalton's one-yard run off a fake to running back Jeremy Hill to give them a 20-10 lead with 5:15 left in the third quarter.

It lasted a little more than two minutes, when  Washington went 91 yards in a Big Ben second. The Bengals gave up their first plus-40-yard pass of October when wide receiver DeSean Jackson caught a 47-yarder working against cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. After nose tackle Domata Peko was called for roughing on a running play, quarterback Kirk Cousins found Jordan Reed in this marvelous duel of tight ends. Working against linebacker Vontaze Burfict,  Reed caught it, pivoted away from Burfict, and scored a 23-yard touchdown that cut the Bengals' lead to 20-17 with 3:02 left in the third quarter.

Another sack and another missed Nugent field goal from beyond 50 yards spelled a 10-7 half-time deficit.

After penalties on Newman and Bashaud Breeland covering Green gave the Bengals automatic first downs, Cincinnati drove inside the 30. But on second down, Washington collapsed the pocket working a twist and got enough pressure that Dalton was a sitting duck for defensive lineman Chris Baker coming up the middle for a whopping eight-yard sack.

Nugent, who missed from 40 and 45 yards last week, hooked a 51-yarder with 3:26 left in the half and went 0-for-3 for the season from 50 and beyond.

Washington had an overpowering edge in offensive snaps, and Cousins wreaked havoc on the secondary against little pressure from up front, completing 20 of 27 passes for 189 yards.

But the Bengals had  some big stands in  the red zone and got back linebacker Vontaze Burfict when he left briefly for an injured right knee, which wasn't the one that was surgically repaired two years ago.

The Bengals couldn't score after getting a touchdown on the first drive. Washington cornerback Josh Norman shadowed wide receiver A.J. Green, held to one catch for 10 yards on four targets in the first half, and Dalton didn't have much time in the pocket. The one time had Green open deep, he was under pressure and threw it short. Dalton went into the half with just 52 yards passing on seven of 11, as Washington hogged the ball for nearly 20 minutes.

Bengals rookie wide receiver Alex Erickson answered  Washington's touchdown drive that consumed the first eight minutes of the game with a 65-yard kick return to set up the Bengals' tying score with 3:51 left in a quicksilver first quarter.

After Dalton converted a third-and-eight to rookie wide receiver Tyler Boyd, when Boyd bolted for the first after the catch at the Washington 20, the Bengals turned to the run against a defense giving up five yards per carry. Running backs Jeremy Hill (two carries for 12 yards in the drive) and Giovani Bernard (two for 13 yards) did the rest. Bernard tied it at seven from the 8 when he burst behind pulling guards Clint Boling and Kevin Zeitler.

Former Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had all the answers on Sunday's first possession, a 15-play zip drive by Cousins that ended with backup running Robert Kelley smashing in from four yards out for a 7-0 lead. Cousins converted a trio of third downs of two, three,  and seven yards in a torturous drive that didn't have a play longer than 17 yards and a slew of missed tackles as he continually found openings underneath.

Tight end Jordan Reed was particularly effective over the middle  and converted the last third down, a killer on third-and-seven in the red zone. Reed ran a shallow cross and didn't have the first down when he caught the ball. But cornerback Adam Jones missed the tackle.

The third-down problems continued on the next drive when wide receiver DeSean Jackson clicked on a short hook on third-and-two and got 15 yards more when safety Shawn Williams was called for hitting him on the ground.

But on fourth–and-one from the Bengals 17, Cincinnati staged a great stand after being forced to call a timeout because of personnel issues when middle linebacker Rey Maualuga shot the gap to force Kelley outside and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick wrapped him up for a one-yard loss.

But the Bengals couldn't take advantage and went three-out when Dalton threw incompletions on first and third downs. With Norman appearing to shadow  Green, Dalton had to get rid of a rollout pass with Norman draped on Green. Then, on third down, Dalton sailed a pass intended for tight end Tyler Eifert as he worked on safety Donte Whitner into the sideline.

The Bengals came up with a third-down stop with 8:16 left in the second quarter at their 2 when Shawn Williams stopped Kelley on a check-down pass that gave Washington a chip-shot field goal to take a 10-7 lead. But Cousins continued  to sift the Bengals, setting up the field goal on a first down pass of 44 yards to tight end Vernon Davis running past linebacker Karlos Dansby down the left sideline. Then Cousins converted another third down, this one to Reed running a short stop route for eight  yards in a hole between Dansby and Shawn Williams.

 PRE-GAME NOTES: Another consequence of the Uzomah move could also mean more time for Ryan Hewitt,  the fullback that doubles as a tight end. When Hewitt is on the field  they are trying to run the ball and that figured to be an emphasis coming into this one with the Bengals trying to keep Washington's pass rush at bay.

Outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy each have six sacks and no doubt they'll have an eye on first-year starter Cedric Ogbuehi at right tackle. The Bengals slid their offensive line to help Ogbuehi last week in the 31-17 win over Cleveland, but in two of the snaps that he was one-on-one he allowed sacks to rookie end Emmanuel Ogbah.

The Bengals figured they would get Washington's best and they did with cornerback Josh Norman and tight end Jordan Reed coming off concussions to get the nod Sunday for head coach Jay Gruden. Gruden, the Bengals fun-loving offensive coordinator from 2011-13, spent the pregame on the lush Wembley turf  chatting up his old players and colleagues.

He spent a particularly long time with Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth and left guard Clint Boling as they tried to make Gruden recall how they sang happy birthday to quarterback Andy Dalton his rookie year the night before they won in Seattle in 2011 with Gruden calling the plays.

That happens to be five years to the day of Sunday's game with Dalton turning 29 Saturday.

Cincinnati Bengals host Washington Redskins at Wembley Stadium as part of the NFL international series 10/30/2016


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