BALTIMORE — Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green attacked the Bengals record book with vengeance Sunday when his touchdown catch of a 51-yard Hail Mary with no time left lifted the Bengals into a franchise-record third overtime game of the season and second in 11 days, the first time they've gone OT in back-to-back games in their 46th season.
Of course, the Bengals shared their hotel Saturday night with clergy attending the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in downtown Baltimore hours before the miracle.
The Bengals eventually lost to the Ravens, 20-17, at M&T Bank Stadium as Green finished with 151 yards to set the club record with five straight 100-yard games. But not before Green and quarterback Andy Dalton authored one of the most thrilling moments in Bengals history.
"My numbers are going to come regardless. The main thing is we keep winning," Green said. "This is a tough one today, but we keep fighting whether we're down 30 or 40."
Dalton began it all when he had the presence of mind to spike the ball on third down from his 49 after getting sacked for the fifth time in the second half. He then lofted a ball to about the two-yard line, where Marvin Jones was locked in a crowd and couldn't do much but tip it in the air. Also in the throng were tight end Tyler Eifert and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.
"You get to your spots," Jones said. "If A.J. had gone for the ball or gone somewhere else, it would have dropped. I just tipped it in the air. That's all I could do. When I got up I saw him catch it and put his toes in.
Green, a Pro Bowl leaper, admitted he's usually the guy that's known to jump and catch a tipped ball, like he did earlier in the game on 42-yard gem between two Ravens. Instead, he played the tip in the right corner.
"I saw two guys jump," said Green, who noted they didn't need a third. "It was kind of underthrown and I was running past the ball because I had my head down digging."
And, of course, a former Bengal had to be involved. Ravens safety Jeromy Miles, plucked off waivers earlier this season after Miles spent the opener and the previous three seasons in Cincinnati, was on the field for the play even though he usually only plays special teams. but the 6-2 Miles is long and can jump. Safety James Ihedigbo got a hand on it, but he tipped to Green.
"Jeromy Miles, he's the jumper. He's tall, long. He's supposed to jump up, tip the ball. My job's to be back, almost in the back of the end zone," Ihedigbo said. "I saw the ball get caught in the wind, so I knew it was going to hit the end zone. I knew it was going to be short, so I moved up, bonehead move, I moved up a little bit. I just should have stayed back. It probably would have fell right in my lap. I saw it drifting, tried to slap it to the ground. It went up in the air; easy touchdown. I mean, things happen. I mean, my defense, guys had my back. They said 'Hey, let's keep playing. Let's keep playing. We've just got to stop them and get them.' "
"It was luck. It fell into my hands," Green said of his first Hail Mary play on any level.
Maybe even more amazing than the result is that the Bengals have never practiced it.
"We don't get to practice that live, but every chance you have to show that on tape when you see somebody get an opportunity and have an opportunity to run it, you talk about it," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "and make sure guys understand where they want to get to and then get in position to get the ball tipped up in the air where we can go and rebound it. I don't know who ended up getting the tip, and they tipped it back right to A.J.
"That's what you want to do. You want to go up strong, and hopefully, you have a chance to go up and contest the ball and get it batted up into the air, and we can come down with it on the rebound."
PENALTY TOLL: Lewis looked like he could have used some help from the heavens in a first half the Bengals lost 114 yards on seven penalties.
"That was incredible. I have never seen a run of penalties so one-sided, and we were still 17-0 at half," Lewis said. "I just don't know how they can be so lopsided all the time. It was six- or seven-to-one in the first half, and they were huge plays. At one time, I looked up and there were five penalties for 95 yards, and then we got one after that. Some of them were just in a bad run of it because we're not that far off of it. Things happen, and we get a facemask when we're rushing with a blitzer (safety Chris Crocker). So, some things, we can't help."
Lewis also wasn't happy that the refs waited so long over the ball on a fourth-and-one that Lewis decided to go for on the Ravens 47 on their first possession of the game.
"In hindsight I would have called a timeout," Lewis said.
Then would he have gone for it?
"We'll never know," he said. "Fourth and a half a yard I expect to make it."
He said the Bengals did rebound after "going sideways" for a stretch after the failed fourth-and-one.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Bengals WLB Vontaze Burfict disputed the flag that was thrown on him in the fourth quarter, saying when he hit quarterback Joe Flacco, he was still in-bounds. Burfict also said a Ravens coach pushed him on the sideline and he wants the league to look at it.
"The funny thing is, I was on their sideline, and I think it was the defensive coordinator, and he pushed me," Burfict said. "I was thinking, 'Come on, man. You should have a little more class than that.' And I will try to turn that into the league."
Burfict had another big game with 12 tackles despite missing some snaps late in the fourth quarter to get checked for a concussion but was allowed to return. He had high praise for backup middle linebacker Vinnie Rey's career day of three sacks (the second, third and fourth of his career), his first NFL interception, and a team-high and career-high 13 tackles.
"He's (our) smartest linebacker. He helped me from my first day as a Cincinnati Bengal," Burfict said.
Rey tipped his hat to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and linebackers coach Paul Guenther.
"The defensive line and Vontaze set it up for me because they had to pick them up and I was able to get there," Rey said.
» Center Kyle Cook said he thought the Bengals got that fourth-and-one "by two yards," but he says he needs to look at it on film.
» The theme of the postgame locker room was that the Bengals let the Ravens and Browns back in the AFC North race, but that they still have the upper hand.
"We're still in first, right?" Cook asked. "We can still write our own destiny."
» For the first time in his career Dalton threw three picks in two straight games and more than 50 passes. His passer rating of 52.2 was a season low and not that much worse than Flacco's 60.0. Two of the picks were overthrown into the wind but Dalton said he wasn't going to blame the wind. Tight end Tyler Eifert said Dalton told him the wind took one of his passes.
On Dalton's second-quarter pick he overthrew Eifert down the seam and it went straight to Ihedigbo. Ihedigbo's two picks were the first by the Ravens safeties this season.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Flacco both said the wind was a factor in the passing game.
"It was kind of easier to throw the ball into the wind," Flacco said. "The flea-flicker (into the wind), I could've gotten it out there more. I probably could've adjusted for (the wind). I just felt like I was a little bit behind him, so I had to get the ball out quick. Throwing with the wind, it was tough to throw the ball down the field just because that's when the ball got caught up and went right or just went totally long. If you could keep the ball low into the wind, it was a little bit easier than throwing with it."
» The Bengals needed ends Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson to come up big with the loss of Geno Atkins and you'd have to say they did. Dunlap had two sacks and forced a late fumble recovered by James Harrison while Johnson hit Flacco to force Rey's pick to go with seven tackles.