Mike Nugent hit the right upright on both his PATs.
Sunday's 16-12 loss to the Bills not only devastated the 3-6-1 Bengals in the AFC North standings, but the depth chart took a heavy blow with perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green leading the hit parade.
As Green gingerly dressed with an Ace bandage wrapped around his damaged right hamstring, there was concern an MRI would reveal a season-ending tear.
And, as was feared in the locker room after the game, running back Giovani Bernard suffered a season-ending ACL injury, according to multiple reports. Starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick also had his knee checked in the MRI room after the game. Starting safety Shawn Williams hurt his hamstring late in the second quarter and never returned. The Green injury, suffered on the second play of the game, is an earthquake blow to him and his offense. With 964 yards (second in the NFL) and 66 catches (third in the NFL), he was on pace for his best season ever. ProFootballTalk.com reported he was having an MRI Monday,
"Sick. Sick," said cornerback Adam Jones of seeing Green on the cart. "How do you think? The best receive in the league. If he's down, how do you think it's going to affect the team?"
The loss of Bernard, who apparently got hurt on the last drive of the game, is also a punch in the gut. With 39 catches, he is the team's second leading receiver behind Green and his jitterbug moves and Green's massive catch radius make them their two biggest playmakers. Now it looks like they'll have neither in the chase for an AFC North title that seems to get further and further away as every week passes.
It will be interesting to see how the Bernard injury impacts the injured reserve situation. The Bengals have to choose between rookie cornerback William Jackson, their first-round pick, and veteran running back Cedric Peerman. It was thought they were leaning to the younger player who plays the more premium position, but now they're down to two healthy backs in Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead, who replaced Bernard with 38 seconds left in the game.
The injuries are a perfect example why head coach Marvin Lewis said on Friday they'll wait to see what develops since they can activate Peerman or Jackson at any time.
NUGENT NOT PAT: Jones also tried to console Mike Nugent publicly and privately after he missed two extra points, giving him three misses in his last six PAT tries.
"I know my boy Mike over there is probably real down," Jones said. "The … crowd is not helping when they're out there …. with him when he's warming up."
Long snapper Clark Harris took blame for the first missed PAT when he fired a bad one, which happens as often as a solar eclipse.
"Terrible snap. It was high, fast. It was awful. The mis-kick was 100 percent my fault," Harris said.
This is front page news in Bengaldom. Since Harris arrived in 2009, he has snapped for 1,121 punt and field-goal snaps without an unplayable delivery.
"When it happens, you have to own up to it," Harris said. "It definitely is my fault. I held on to the ball a little long and pulled it high. (I) just move on past it."
But there was no talking Nugent out of the bottom line.
"Missing two (PATs) was the reason we lost. Horrible," said Nugent when asked how he felt after the first half misses. "Just seeing that score play out. Their kicker was great, he made some big kicks. That game should have been 16-14 with not a very long field because the offense did such a great job getting the ball down the field. We should have been kicking a field goal to win it."
Nugent became the first Bengals kicker to miss two PATs in a game since Jim Breech missed two out of six in a 40-20 rout of the Oilers at Riverfront Stadium on Dec. 23, 1990.
REX ADJUSTMENT: Bills head coach Rex Ryan said his defense made some adjustments in the second half and until 2:30 left in the game, Buffalo held the Bengals to 38 yards in the half and sent them through four straight three-and-outs. It marked the third time in the last four games the Bengals haven't scored a point in the fourth quarter. It was also the first time they got blanked in the second half since the Texans knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten nearly a year to the day in the 10-6 loss at PBS on Nov. 16.
After the game the Bills said a focus during the week was to eliminate the deep ball. The longest completion was a 21-yarder down the sideline to tight end Tyler Eifert at the end of the first half. But in the second half, quarterback Andy Dalton had just a seven-yard completion on seven passes until 2:30 left in the game, when Buffalo let him drive down the field. His 57 passer rating was his lowest in nearly two years, when his 53.6 on Dec. 14, 2014 in Cleveland was good enough to best Johnny Manziel's debut, 30-0.
But there was one adjustment that happened a lot earlier than that. When Green went down, the Bills wanted to make sure Eifert didn't hurt them after tight ends Rob Gronkowksi and Jimmy Graham each had 100-yard games against Buffalo in the previous two weeks.
So it appeared they shifted Green's coverage to Eifert and basically put a safety behind him at all times. Dalton only went to him six times for three completions and 37 yards.
And so Ryan called off the blitz, rushed with three and four men, dropped everybody else, and dared Dalton to find anybody not Green and Eifert.
"Once they realized A.J. was out of the game, a guy like Rex Ryan is too good, and he knows how to adjust things once something like that happens," said left tackle Andrew Whitworth. "He did a great job making it where these other guys are going to have to find ways to get open, and that was kind of the story there."
TD TYLER: Rookie wide receiver Tyler Boyd ended the first half with his first NFL touchdown catch on a one-yard toss from Dalton on third down, giving him five catches for 46 yards. But he wouldn't catch his next one until after the two-minute warning and finished with six catches for 54 yards.
"I wish we had the win," Boyd said of his milestone. "I don't know why that happened. We're too good for that — I know that much. But we've just got to come back and come in the film room and watch why we couldn't execute four times in a row. That's not a good look for us. We've got too many great guys on this team. We're going to get back in the film room and look at it."
Cincinnati Bengals host the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium in week 11 of the regular season 11/20/2016