When safety Brandon Wilson took off for the longest play in Bengals history, a 103-yard kick return that tied a game barely five minutes old Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, Bengals middle linebacker Josh Bynes had already caught that act before.
Bynes was on the other side last year in Baltimore when Wilson went all the way on the game's opening kickoff on the way to the NFL kick return title.
"He housed it on us. Just to see him do it again because you know he has great capability and great speed - you saw nobody caught him - it was just so amazing," Bynes said after the 19-17 loss to the Giants.
And this one was so needed. The Giants had just marched down the field with the opening kickoff for a 7-0 lead and they were going to give the ball to quarterback Brandon Allen in the first game without Joe Burrow. So when Allen finally got in the huddle, it was 7-7, and you can argue that Wilson's historic run made sure it would be a 60-minute game. Well, 59:11.
"I think it gave some juice to the team. It think it propelled everything for us. Brandon is a heckuva player. I love him," Bynes said. "He's a great player - return man, gunner, whatever you want him to do on special teams. He's just done an awesome job and that play right there was definitely something we talked about all week and know Brandon is capable of it."
Indeed, Wilson made the tackle on the game's opening kickoff before all that. The next kick return TD for Wilson is the third of his career and no Bengal has ever done that. And only he and Tremain Mack have two in the history of the franchise.
Wilson broke the record that never seemed breakable after cornerback Louis Breeden went for 102 yards out of his own end zone in San Diego during 1981's November to Remember. Running back Eric Bieniemy went for 102 on a kickoff in a 1997 game in New Jersey against these Giants before cornerback Artrell Hawkins matched Breeden in Houston 18 years ago.
ZAC BACK TO ALLEN: Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had seen enough and he's confident in what quarterback Brandon Allen can do next. So despite the loss, Taylor is turning to Allen for next week's game at Miami.
"I thought he did enough for us. The guys around him have to step up too, now," Taylor said. "We had several drops (and) holding penalties when we would get a completion. (It felt like) we had only three possessions there in the first half. It felt like we hardly ever had the ball. In the second half, (we) just never had our rhythm. When we would get something positive, it seemed like something would send us back the other way on the same play. There were three drops, two holding penalties — and there was a fumble on a positive play — that all hurt us."
Allen, who completed 17 of 29 passes for 136 yards for a touchdown and an interception, saw the Bengals rush for just 40 yards on 15 carries . Allen was sacked twice, including the sack-strip by Jabaal Sheard with 49 seconds left to end it.
Even though the Bengals offense could generate just 155 yards for their lowest output of Taylor's 27 games, fresh in Taylor's mind are last week's crisp practices (FOX Sports reported Allen was 25 of 25 on Wednesday) and how he took them down the field in 1:21 for the one-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins that made it 19-17 with 2:33 left.
"I've just been around Brandon and felt like he gave us a good chance (to win), and he did," Taylor said. "I feel like he's a good decision maker. Not everything was perfect, but again, we knew there were going to be some challenges. We needed the guys around him to lift him up and help him through this week, and we didn't get enough of that, to be quite honest. And there will be some things we need him to improve on, certainly. We need the whole unit to be more supportive around him."
Allen played much of the game with a glove on his left hand. He said the trainers called it "a mallet finger," which is defined by having a damaged tendon but he said it wasn't a problem.
SLANTS AND SCREENS: The Bengals can't be all that surprised it was the linebacker Sheard beating left tackle Jonah Williams on that final snap for his first sack as a Giant. Sheard, a 10-year vet who signed last month with the Giants, was playing his 11th game against the Bengals, most of them with Cleveland, and he came in with 1.5 sacks against them and four forced fumbles …
The Bengals had to make a move on the left side of the line late in the first half when they lost right guard Alex Redmond with a concussion. That moved Quinton Spain from left to right guard and brought Michael Jordan off the bench less than a half after Taylor replaced Jordan with Spain in the starting lineup…
For the second time in three weeks wide receiver A.J. Green went all the way and didn't have a catch. He had three contested targets in the Giants' suffocating zone that held Auden Tate to no catches on two targets and leading receiver Tyler Boyd to three catches for 15 yards …
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones hurt his hamstring early in the second half and left with a solid effort of 16-for-27 for 213 yards. But the Bengals were all over back-up Colt McCoy, just 31 yards on six of ten passing.
The big thing for Jones is that it was his third straight game without a turnover. The big thing for the Bengals is that Jones came in sacked eight times in the last two games, he was the fourth leading sacked quarterback and the Giants got a new offensive line coach after the bye.
But the Bengals didn't sack him and hit the New York QBs just three times. Two were by end Sam Hubbard, one by Bynes and none by right end Carl Lawson, who came into Sunday leading the NFL with 14 quarterback knockdowns, according to profootballreference.com