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Lewis: Changing wind factor on not kicking

Andy Dalton

Updated: 6 p.m.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said Mile High's changing winds were the reason he opted not for Mike Nugent to try a 54-yard field goal with 3:07 left in the game and go for it, instead, on fourth-and-one from the Denver 36.

"You had a big wind. I don't know if you noticed the wind yesterday, but it changed seven or eight times during the game.," Lewis said. "It changed at halftime from when we came on the field to when they kicked off. There were a lot of big changes (in the wind). We had a lot of confidence that we could make the first down on offense. We went for two because I felt like we could make it. You can sit here in hindsight and (second guess).

"If we would've made the first down, would you have asked me if why I didn't kick the field goal? I didn't think so. That's kind of petty to come back and ask questions like that afterward. I thought only people there did that. But we had a lot of confidence in making it, and we didn't make it. Looking at it now, the best thing to do would've been to punt it."

Nugent, who made a 55-yarder in the preseason, said the wind even changed during the fourth quarter and that it would have been a severe right-to-left kick.

"I think you can make an argument both sides," he said. "I love I don't have to make decisions like that. That's a coaching job, not a player's job. They're tough. (The wind) wasn't really hurting us either way. It really picked up at the end. It was blowing hard to the other sideline. It would have been a tough one. It it would have been a deep one, you would have had to play it pretty hard to the right the way we were going."

Nugent said the other factor was time. There were still three minutes left and a miss would have given the Broncos great field position. Same thing when Lewis passed up a 55-yarder and punted it from the Denver 39 with 6:49 left.

SLANTS AND SCREENS » According to Elias, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is only the second rookie since the 1970 merger with Dan Marino to post 100-plus passer ratings in each of his first two starts. He'll try to match Marino's three this Sunday against the 49ers.

» With wide receiver Jordan Shipley on season-ending IR with a torn ACL, Lewis said Andre Caldwell has already been splitting snaps with Shipley and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese said he didn't expect any dropoff at the slot receiver given Caldwell's experience.

» An unhappy defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had a Monday walkthrough. It is not uncharacteristic for Zimmer to do it on a day usualy reserved for just meetings and lifting, particulalry after a bad game. Like safety Chris Crocker said, "We needed it."

"I don't know who that team was," said Zimmer of his defense's play on Sunday.

» A huge play in the game was a holding call on running back Brian Leonard on Denver's punt with 2:25 left that gave the Bengals one last shot from their 5 with no timeouts. But Lewis disputed almost everything about the play. "It wasn't Brian, it was another player but again that's something that's a little bit iffy but yet in those situations we've got to be smarter," Lewis said. "Like I said our punt defense game,  we've got to improve that. We had the block in the back early in the game, we had that play late in the game, which was another huge field position play."
» He also didn't like the horse-collar call on cornerback Nate Clements in the end zone as he failed to break up wide receiver Eric Decker's 25-yard touchdown catch.
"I don't know if you saw the replay of it but (Clements) had already tackled him from around the waist and he was trying to strip the ball from him with his right hand and he already had him grasped around the waist," Lewis said. "I never actually got close enough to the back judge after that to ask him what he saw. Obviously he only saw one point of view. He should have gotten some help from the wing guys on that. I thought there was a couple of things ... but that is something we'll send in and get the clarification on."
» Dalton reached the top 10 in NFL passing this week off his 332-yard performance in Denver during the 24-22 loss to the Broncos on Sunday when he emerged in eighth place with a 105.7 passer rating. With passers that have more than 30 attempts he joins Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and New Orleans' Drew Brees as the only quarterbacks with no interceptions.

In his rookie duel with Carolina's Cam Newton, Dalton has the edge in completion percentage (66-63), interceptions (0-4), passer rating (Newton is at 87.7), and they both have three touchdown passes. Newton has a big 10.3 number in yards per throw compared to Dalton's 7.4. The last time the Bengals had a quarterback average more than seven yards per throw for an entire season was Carson Palmer's 7.2 in 2007.

But after Sunday's outing in which he completed just one third-down pass, Dalton is 18th in the league in third-down passing with a 74.1 rating.

Wide receiver A.J. Green leads all rookies with 165 receiving yards and wide receiver Jerome Simpson is 16th in the NFL with 180. He and Green Bay's Jordy Nelson have the NFL's second longest catch of the season at 84 yards behind the 99 of New England's Wes Welker.

On Sunday the Bengals lost for just the 10th time under Marvin Lewis in the 52 games they've won the turnover-differential. They haven't committed one yet this season and at plus-3 are tied for sixth in the NFL.

Sunday's opponent, the 49ers, are tied for third at plus-4 with a 1-1 record and are 31st in offense and tied for 18th in defense with a run defense ranked first in the league. The Bengals are 18th in offense and ninth in defense.

With the worst expected on Shipley's knee, the Bengals look to be mulling some options. They could promote Andrew Hawkins from the practice squad and it would then be assumed that rookie receiver Ryan Whalen would be active on game day for the first time. Or Quan Cosby could be an option after spending the two previous seasons with the Bengals primarily as their punt returner. He was cut when they claimed wide receiver/returner Brandon Tate on waivers at the beginning of the season.  Lewis wouldn't say Monday how the Bengals would fill the roster spot. 

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