MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - The last thing Bengals head coach Zac Taylor wanted to talk about after Sunday's 38-35 overtime loss to the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium was securing the No. 1 pick in next April's draft.
He may have just won LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, but Taylor was raving about his current quarterback after Andy Dalton erased a 23-point lead in the final 6:11 and engineered 16 points in the final 29 seconds of regulation.
"He was as fiery as you've ever seen him," Taylor said. "He was frustrated when guys weren't doing their job. He hung in there and really gave us a chance … He's another coach out there … Just like always he was in complete control."
As for the No. 1 pick, Taylor found it irrelevant after such an emotional game.
"We work too hard, we play too hard," Taylor said. "If there's any competitive juice in you what so ever … That's what you saw from the players, coaches and everyone in this organization. We put too much effort into it not to give every effort."
- Dalton was immense in defeat, setting a career-high with 56 passes, tying his most completions with 33 and getting the Bengals a season-high 35 points with 396 yards, his second most this season. The Bengals who hadn't scored a TD in the second half since Oct. 20, let it all out with Dalton's four second-half TDs.
"I was just saying let's just worry about getting two touchdowns. Two drives. That's all we need," said Dalton, who converted their first two-pointers of the season in those final 33 seconds.
One was to tight end Tyler Eifert and the one with no time left came on a scramble, punctuating the end of regulation with a vicious spike.
"The way things had gone early on," Dalton said. "It was almost a relief. It was like, 'Now, let's go win it.'"
The play that set up the scramble was the 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Eifert with four seconds left from the Dolphins 25. Taylor admitted there just aren't many plays drawn up for a play that's in between a fourth down snap and a Hail Mary. He found the 6-6 Eifert leaping in the end zone, pulling down a line drive.
"In my head, I was thinking I'm going to buy as much time as can and try to give Tyler a chance," Dalton said. "The way they played it, they left a lane for him. As soon as I let it out of my hand, I was like, get there as quick as it can … .That's stuff you can build on for sure."
Dalton was thinking No. 1 play, not No. 1 pick.
"I mean, you're not worried about the draft while you're playing this game. You shouldn't be worried about the draft," Dalton said. "Nobody's worried about the draft. Everybody is worried about going what they can do to win a game."
- In the middle of it all, after they pulled to within 35-27, kicker Randy Bullock, who had already kicked a franchise-record 57-yarder late in the first half, came up huge again with an on-side kick that was recovered by linebacker Jordan Evans at the Bengals 46 with 29 seconds left . After spinning the ball short last week, Bullock kicked it straight and true, a perfect ten yards on a kick special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons installed this past week.
"And we recovered it a few times," Simmons said.
Which is more than they had done in the last nine years. That's the last time the Bengals recovered an on-side kick. In mid-November, 2010, on a play kicker Mike Nugent tore his ACL. A year before Green and Dalton.
Simmons says it seems like he's used more on-side kicks this year than in any of his 17 seasons on the job. They've needed them, too.
Always a hard play and when they changed the rules last year, it became really hard because it took away the running start. Taylor said on-side kicks are recovered six percent of the time since the change.
Plus, they were on grass and not turf, where you're more likely to get a friendly bounce.
"It's all timing now and there's a lot of luck involved," Simmons said.
This one bounced up on the third hop. Rookie wide receiver Stanley Morgan, Jr., batted it before Evans fell on it.
"The grass is not as responsive. On the turf it's more likely to pop up," Simmons said.
But it did.
"It's been a long time," Simmons said.
Check out game photos from Week 16 as the Bengals face the Miami Dolphins.
_How good was Boyd? He remains Dalton's fourth-down guy. That's how he scored with 29 seconds left on a three-yarder he muscled away at the goal line and barely willed it in. That gave him his fourth 100-yard game of the year and puts him 13 yards away from back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
"Tyler made a great play on that one. There were times in this game where he was getting doubled," Dalton said. "The moments that he wasn't, he came up big for us. Not only the touchdown, but then the play (for 30 yards) before we scored Tyler's touchdown, right at the end. For him to go up and make that catch and get a big chunk there, that gave us an opportunity to be down there. That was huge. 'T.B.' played really well."
Five more catches and Boyd becomes the fifth Bengal to have at least 90 catches, joining Carl Pickens, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and A.J. Green.