Bullock Kick Lifts Bengals Past Bucs, 37-34

Cincinnati Bengals kicker Randy Bullock (4) kicks an extra point from the hold of Kevin Huber during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Randy Bullock kicked a 44-yard field goal as time expired to life the Bengals to a wild 37-34 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Joe Mixon ran for a career-high 123 yards and two touchdowns, while Tyler Boyd added nine catches for his career-high of 138 yards and a score as the Bengals head into the bye week at 5-3 overall.

Take a bow A.J. Green because he set up the kick on the two final plays with catches totaling 34 yards.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, the former Bengals quarterback, drove the Bucs from their 12 with 3:16 left for eight points to tie it at 34 with 1:10 left. Facing fourth-and-three from the 18, he threw a seed to tight end O.J. Howard running between the linebackers and cornerback Dre Kirpatrick for the TD. Then on the two-point conversion rookie defensive lineman Sam Hubbard couldn't finalize a sack and Fitzpatrick drilled the tying two-pointer to tight end Chris Godwin despite rookie cornerback Darius Phillips and linebacker Jordan Evans all over him.

The Bengals offense was comatose in the second half, except in the final 1:05 as quarterback Andy Dalton recorded his 24th career game winning drive to finish with a 107.5 passer rating on 21 of 34 passing for 280 yards. In a quarter-and-a-half, Fitzpatrick put on another display of FitzMagic when he conjured up 194 yards on 11 of 15 passing in 17:10.

With Phillips already playing slot corner, the Bengals also had to go to little-used corner KeiVarae Russell at one point when Kirkpatrick went out with an Achilles' issue. He came back, but the Bucs piled up 576 yards, second most against a Marvin Lewis defense.

The Bengals blew a 21-0 lead the only way you can. After scoring four touchdowns on 36 snaps in the first half, the offense withered and died. They couldn't run the ball, didn't get a first down on their first four possessions of the second half in taking just six minutes off the clock on 12 plays and allowed touchdown bombs of 60 and 72 yards.

That 72-yarder was flung by Fitzpatrick to wide receiver Mike Evans with absolutely no one near him and cut the lead to 34-26 with 9:57 left in the game. Mixon, who had 114 yards in the first half, lost four by the time the Bengals got the ball with 6:25 left trying to kill it. Mixon got the first first down of the half with 4:55 left on a third-and-one push

Then he broke a slew of tackles on the next snap for a nine-yard gain and that set up a 15-yard back-shoulder throw from Dalton to Green at the Tampa Bay 33, Green's first catch of the half and third of the day with 3:38 left.

But then the offense imploded. Mixon lost a yard on first down, on second down Dalton took a bad sack that took them out of field goal range and then Mixon dropped a screen to bring on Kevin Huber for a punt that put Tampa Bay at its 12 with 3:16 left.

The Bengals chased Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston with four interceptions and by the time old friend Fitzpatrick appeared the Bengals had a 34-16 lead with 2:10 left in the third quarter after rookie safety Jessie Bates went 21 yards with his first career-pick six and the Bengals' NFL-leading fourth return TD.

It was Cincinnati's second pick of the quarter when Jordan Evans got into the act with his first career interception dropping into coverage over the middle and getting help from nose tackle Andrew Billings' harassment of Winston.

But it was another costly day. They lost one of their best pass rushers when Carl Lawson tore his ACL, the second such injury in as many weeks for them.

The Bengals took a 27-6 lead with 2:34 left in the first half and by the time they got the ball six minutes into the second half it was only 27-16. And they only had the ball for three plays before they gave it right back to a team averaging about 450 yards a game.

Bullock's kickoff that sailed out of bounds set up a Tampa field goal at the end of the first half and on Tampa's first series of the second half Winston converted a third-and-13 to wide receiver Adam Humphries in the wake of tackle Adolphus Washington's first Bengals' sack to set up running back Peyton Barber's one-yard touchdown run.

After two sluggish drives to open the game that briefly cost them another starting tight end, Jordan Franks caught a 32-yard pass on his first NFL snap to highlight a drive capped by Mixon's one-yard touchdown run with 3:04 left in the first quarter to jump-start the Bengals' 27-9 half-time lead.

The Bengals defense did its share with two interceptions of Winston in the half, two sacks and they didn't allow the NFL's No. 1 offense points until 4:36 left in the half when wide receiver DeSean Jackson ran by cornerback William Jackson for a 60-yard touchdown play.

It appeared Will was shadowing DeSean, an uncharacteristic move by the Bengals scheme, but it looked like Will was looking for help on DeSean's streaking post. After Randy Bullock missed an extra point, he then kicked the ball out of bounds to give Tampa the ball at its 40 with 2:34 left. The Bengals forced Chandler Catanzaro's 25-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half when Winston overthrew Evans covered in the end zone by Kirpatrick.

That was the 18th time in the last 24 games a Bengals foe had scored in the final two minutes of the half, but it couldn't spoil a feel-good 30 minutes this offense desperately needed after scoring just ten points last week in Kansas City against the NFL's last-ranked defense.

That's all it took for Mixon to reach a season-high 114 on 14 carries and Dalton went after a Tampa Bay defense allowing a 125 passer rating with a 129.6 of his own. He hit 13 of 20 passes for 192 yards and two TDs, the last one coming with 2:34 left on a 17-yard fade where Green out-jumped rookie corner Carlton Davis III.

Boyd also only needed a half to join the 100-yard club with 112 on six catches.

Franks, undrafted out Central Florida, was promoted from the practice squad last week when Mason Schreck became the third tight end to suffer a season-ending injury in Kansas City. When C.J. Uzomah, the last tight end standing from training camp, re-injured a shoulder on the second series, Franks found himself going in motion and running a wheel route down the right sideline on linebacker Devonte Bond. Dalton put it right there at the Tampa 31 and two snaps later he went back side to Boyd and they probably should have given him the touchdown when he dove on the pylon at the end of the 28-yard play that set up Mixon's TD.

Uzomah did return.

Up 7-0, the Bengals picked Winston a second time, this time Hubbard contained Winston in the pocket, mirrored his moves and then got his hand on a pass that was intercepted by middle linebacker Preston Brown to set the Bengals up at their own 42.

The series was a grind job. After left tackle Cordy Glenn was called for a hold, Lewis went for it on fourth down for the second time in the game on fourth-and-three from the Bucs 36. Green picked a good time to make his first catch of the day with 10:53 left in the first half on a sliding 10-yarder out of the slot. Then Mixon rolled for 21 on a mis-direction sweep where he took off behind Glenn as they motioned to the right.

They went up 14-0 when Dalton lined up three receivers to his left with Boyd, Green and Alex Erickson from in to out on third-and-6 from the Tampa 9. Linebacker Adarius Taylor had no chance against Boyd down the seam and he plucked Dalton's bullet by barely turning around.

After the Bengals kept swarming Winston (left end Carlos Dunlap dropped running back Ronald Jones II for a loss in the backfield and Hubbard added a sack), Boyd strafed that shaky secondary for 45 yards on two catches and Mixon walked in behind right guard Alex Redmond and center Trey Hopkins for an eight-yard touchdown with 5:07 left in the half.

Then Mixon put on his show on the next series to set up Green's TD at the end of the half with the longest run of his career, a 43-yarder he began stalking the left perimeter. A couple of jump-cuts and missed tackles later in the middle of the field, the ball was at the Bucs 17 and Green was waiting.

The tone of the day may have been set by Bengals safety Shawn Williams in the middle of the first quarter in a 0-0 game the Bucs had blasted into the red zone at the 18. But Winston threw a touchdown pass to Williams instead of Evans.

The Bengals ended the half with eight interceptions on the season after getting 11 all last year. Now they've got 10 heading into the season's second half.