Kickers can't walk off with it

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Rookie Jake Elliott nearly did Thursday what no Bengal ever did and hit a 60-yard field goal.

INDIANAPOLIS -  How eerie was the last 4:42 of Thursday night's pre-season finale?

Here Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons has conducted an exhaustive kicking competition between veteran Randy Bullock and fifth-rounder Jake Elliott. He has labored to make everything as even as possible. In spring OTAs, training camp practices, pre-season games. So as if Simmons scripted it for Saturday's final cut, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who played the guttiest last five minutes this side of Sinatra, drove for three winning field goals in the final 4:42.

Naturally, as Simmons only could dream, it went to the gun.

The operation, or lack of it, was the death of it, which was really weird since the kicking game has been such a focus all these months.  Elliott, who had missed once in the preseason, drilled a 41-yarder. But as it went through, defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow was called for a false start and Elliott hooked the 46-yarder left.

"It's tough, but I have to bounce back and make that regardless," Elliott said.

Bullock, perfect all preseason, had his shot with 1:45 left courtesy of McCarron's scramble on third-and-nine that found wide receiver Alex Erickson on a 24-yard play. But his 47-yarder was also pulled left. Bullock, whose 43-yard miss at the gun Christmas Eve to win it in Houston was foiled by lack of timing, saw it happen again on a winner.

"We were out of sync. We didn't have a real clean operation," Bullock said. "We tried to compensate and do our jobs. The operation just has to be smoother and do what we need to do."

Then with everyone in the Tri-State area but Mike Pence chasing him down, McCarron, limping after taking a hellacious leg shot (not to mention a clothesline tackle worthy of an NFL suspension), fired a 24-yard completion to rookie Cethan Carter backed up on his 13 with 35 seconds left to help set up Elliott's 60-yarder with two seconds left.

The kid almost nailed it. Elliott, whose longest field goal at Memphis was 56 yards, had the leg and it started straight.

"But it curled left on me at the last second," Elliott said. "I hit it really well."

And that's why the Bengals took Elliott in the fifth round. He's got a big-time leg. But when the dust cleared, the sense is this is still Bullock's job to lose. He had a better percentage than Elliott in practice and in the games.

But they're waiting like everybody else.

"I wanted to be in that situation. I still want to be in that situation," Bullock said. "I think I've had a strong camp. I think I made a strong push. Now we'll see what happens over the next few days."

Simmons had his script. But the lack of an ending may have provided the punctuation.

Cincinnati Bengals take on the Indianapolis Colts in week 4 of the preseason.

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