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Bengals Return Home To Host The Dallas Cowboys In Week 14

Linebacker Germain Pratt lines up prior to a play in the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4 of the 2020 NFL season.
Linebacker Germain Pratt lines up prior to a play in the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4 of the 2020 NFL season.

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on FOX-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WXIX-TV (Ch. 19) in Cincinnati, WGRT-TV (Ch. 45) in Dayton, WDKY-TV (Ch. 56) in Lexington, and WTTE-TV (Ch. 28) in Columbus. Broadcasters are Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (analyst) and Laura Okmin (reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).

Setting the scene: The Bengals this week return home to face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati will be looking to bounce back from a 19-7 loss at Miami last week.

"It's frustrating when you don't pull these games out at the end," said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. "There are going to be ugly games sometimes that can come down to a late score to see who wins, and we haven't been efficient enough in the second half in really all three phases."

Cincinnati controlled much of the first half at Miami, and jumped out to a 7-0 lead behind a 72-yard TD catch from Tyler Boyd. It was the longest play by the Bengals this season, and also the longest catch of Boyd's career.

But with the Bengals still holding a 7-3 lead late in the second quarter, the game took a turn when Boyd and Dolphins CB Xavien Howard got into a tussle after a third-down play. After the officials convened with the league office in New York, it was determined that Boyd and Howard would both be ejected. Boyd, though, was the only one originally flagged on the play, so despite Howard's ejection, Cincinnati took the brunt of the punishment in the form of a 15-yard penalty. On the next play, K Randy Bullock's FG attempt hooked just outside the left upright. Miami then took over possession with a short field and converted a 48-yard FG as time expired, making the score to 7-6 at the break.

Cincinnati's offense struggled after Boyd's exit, and was held scoreless while gaining just 25 yards the rest of the afternoon.

"They played man coverage about every single snap of the game, so you need your best receivers out there," Taylor said. "But they lost a good corner as well. We both lost guys. We just needed to do better."

Meanwhile, the Dolphins took advantage of a thin Bengals secondary and in the third quarter alone posted 181 total yards, 10 points and an 11:27-3:33 edge in time of possession. It proved too much for Cincinnati to overcome, as the Dolphins cruised to a 19-7 win.

The game, though, will perhaps be remembered most for a fight between both teams midway through the fourth quarter. Led by Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, a group of Miami's players and coaches left their bench area to confront Bengals players and coaches following a kick-catch interference penalty on Bengals WR Mike Thomas. After the play, which left Dolphins WR Jakeem Grant injured (though he did return on the next play), officials ejected three more players, including Bengals S Shawn Williams.

"He got there a little too soon — that's obvious," Taylor said of the play. "It's unfortunate, and you hope (Grant) is fine. But there's no ill will there by Mike Thomas. I can promise you that. He's just being a gunner, trying to go down there and make a play."

This week, Cincinnati welcomes a Dallas team led by a familiar face in former Bengals QB Andy Dalton. The 2011 second-round pick of the Bengals played nine seasons in Cincinnati. When the Bengals terminated his contract in April, he left as the team's all-time leader in completions (2757), touchdown passes (204), passer rating (87.5) and 300-yard passing games (28).

The series: Dallas leads 8-4, though the Bengals lead 3-1 in games played in Cincinnati. The Cowboys have won the last three meetings, 31-22 at Dallas in 2008, 20-19 at Cincinnati in '12 and 28-14 at Dallas in '16. The Bengals' last win was by 26-3 at Cincinnati in 2004.

Bengals-Cowboys connections: Cowboys QB Andy Dalton originally was a second-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2011, and was with the team through the '19 season ... Bengals G Xavier Su'a-Filo was with the Cowboys from 2018-19 ... Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and WR Noah Brown both played at Ohio State University ... Bengals OT Hakeem Adeniji is from Garland, Texas (Garland High School) ... Bengals K Randy Bullock, HB Trayveon Williams and G Keaton Sutherland all played at Texas A&M University. Sutherland is from Flower Mound, Texas (Marcus High School) ...Six Bengals coaches have served as assistants at Texas A&M University: head coach Zac Taylor (2008-11), strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese ('08-11), defensive assistant Gerald Chatman ('15), assistant offensive line coach Ben Martin ('10-11), offensive line coach Jim Turner ('08-11, '16-18), and assistant wide receivers coach Troy Walters ('10-11) ... Cowboys CB C.J. Goodwin was on the Bengals' practice squad in 2018 ... Bengals DT Margus Hunt played at Southern Methodist University ... Bengals C Trey Hopkins played at the University of Texas ... Bengals HB Samaje Perine is from Pflugerville, Texas (Hendrickson High School) ... Cowboys TE Cole Hikutini (practice squad) played at the University of Louisville ... Cowboys WR Jon'vea Johnson (practice squad) played at the University of Toledo ... Cowboys CB Chris Westry (practice squad) played at the University of Kentucky ... Bengals tight ends coach James Casey is from Fort Worth, Texas ... Bengals wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell coached at Baylor University in 2017 ... Cowboys defensive quality control coach Cannon Matthews attended Ohio University and coached at Kentucky Christian University in 2012 ... Cowboys offensive line coach Joe Philbin coached at Ohio University in 1994.

Check out the limited-series retail collection called "Stripes Don't Come Easy." This campaign aims to unify the Cincinnati community through designs intended to create the healthy dialogue, represented by this partnership. Bengals featured include Vonn Bell, Giovani Bernard, Tyler Boyd, Sam Hubbard, Khalid Kareem, C.J. Uzomah and Shawn Williams.

Bengals on historic fourth-down pace: The Bengals' offense this season has successfully converted 17 of its 21 fourth-down attempts, good for an 81.0 percentage that ranks second in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills lead the NFL at 83.3 percent, but they have attempted just six fourth downs (converted five) all season.

Cincinnati's current success on fourth downs ranks among the best in league history. With 17 successful conversions so far this year, the offense needs just three more over the final four games to tie the NFL record of 20, set in 1996 by the Chicago Bears.

Bates enjoying his best season: Bengals S Jessie Bates this season has been among the top performers — offense or defense — on the team, drawing praise from many observers as one of the top safeties in the NFL.

Bates, a 2018 second-round pick of the Bengals, has started all 12 games this season and has 88 tackles (second on team), including two for losses, along with 13 PDs (sixth in NFL), three INTs and a FF.

And opposing coaches have taken notice when watching the film. "I don't know how many interceptions Jessie Bates, has but this is a good player. I'll tell you that right now," said Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. "And I don't really care how many interceptions he has. This is a damn good player."

But Bates, a team captain, says his focus remains solely on winning.

"That only means so much," Bates said of the wave of recognition he's received. "I play this game to win football games. I'm a leader of this team on the defensive side, and my main goal is to win football games. I look at national media when I need to, but right now I'm just focusing on building the right environment around here."

Bates has started all 44 games of his career. With 88 tackles so far this year, he stands just 12 away from topping 100 in each of his first three seasons.


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Higgins eyeing Bengals rookie records: WR Tee Higgins has had an impressive first NFL season, and remains on a trajectory that by year's end could land him among the top rookie pass-catchers in team history.

Higgins' 53 catches through 12 games project out to 70 for a full 16-game slate. That total would be the most ever by a Bengals rookie, ahead of WR Cris Collinsworth (67), WR A.J. Green (65), HB Giovani Bernard (56), WR Tyler Boyd (54) and WR Eddie Brown (53).

Higgins' 729 receiving yards so far project out to 972 over 16 games. That total would rank third in team history among rookies, behind Green (1057) and Collinsworth (1009). Rounding out the top five are Brown (942), and WRs Darnay Scott (866) and Isaac Curtis (843).

Higgins (five TDs) could also approach the 47-year old rookie record of nine receiving TDs, set in 1973 by WR Isaac Curtis. Collinsworth and Brown (both had eight) are tied for second in that category, followed by Green (seven) and WR Chris Henry (six).

Higgins also has two 100-yard receiving games, two shy of Green (four) for most by a Bengals rookie. Curtis and Brown (three) are tied for second place.

Geno has Edwards in his sights: With 75.5 career sacks, Bengals DT Geno Atkins stands in third place on the team's all-time sack list, behind DEs Eddie Edwards (83.5 sacks) and Carlos Dunlap (82.5).

Atkins, who has missed five games this season (four to a shoulder injury, one for personal reasons), has more than double the number of sacks of the next-closest interior defensive lineman in Bengals history (Tim Krumrie, 34.5).

Atkins also missed nearly half of the 2013 season with a torn ACL. He has finished with at least a share of the NFL lead for sacks by an interior lineman five times in his 10 NFL seasons.

Rookie class producing early: Despite the lack of an offseason program to ease the college-to-pro adjustment, the Bengals this year have leaned heavily upon their draft class. The seven players drafted by Cincinnati in April have combined to play in 74 games this season, with 27 starts,

good for a pace of 98 games and 36 starts over a full 16 game slate. It should be noted though that both paces have slowed in recent weeks after rookie QB Joe Burrow suffered a season ending knee injury in Game 10 at Washington.

The most combined games played by a Bengals draft class since 1994 (the year the draft went to seven rounds) is 99, achieved by the 11-player draft class of 2017. The most combined starts over the same period is 50, by the nine-player draft class of 1998.