Quick Hits: 'It Felt Like The Playoffs'

A.J. Green celebrates the go-ahead touchdown with seven seconds left to help the Bengals secure a road win against the Atlanta Falcons.
A.J. Green celebrates the go-ahead touchdown with seven seconds left to help the Bengals secure a road win against the Atlanta Falcons.

ATLANTA - After Sunday's 37-36 gem over the Falcons secured in the final seven seconds on quarterback Andy Dalton's magical 16-play drive in the final 4:08, Bengals running back Giovani Bernard fought back tears.

And he was only in for two of the plays in that last drive capped by a vintage A. J. Green spinning-twisting-diving 13-yard touchdown catch with seven seconds left. Exhausted and spent on 96 total yards, Bernard said he'll be back next Sunday. But his thoughts were with injured tight end Tyler Eifert and that comeback.

"It's a tough game and good people don't deserve that," Bernard said. "I'm glad to be a part of this team and this win … It felt different. It wasn't the playoffs, but it felt different."

Wide receiver Tyler Boyd, looking to make the postseason for the first time, went a step longer: "It felt like the playoffs."

Eifert left with an air cast wrapped around his ankle after making a catch early in the second half and was carted off with what was believed to be his third straight season-ending injury …

- It's as emotional as you'll ever see Green as he came charging off the field bellowing, "This is my city."

Here's how he saw the winner:

"It was just a corner route against cover two. I released inside. The corner gave me a free release and I got up on the safety really quickly. After that, I knew it was over."

His arch-rival Julio Jones had nine catches for 173 yards, but still no TDs this season. Green, who had four catches for 78 yards, went a quarter without a catch until that last one, his fifth TD of the season.

He'll take it.

"Oh man. I'm not a numbers guy. I'm looking for the win," said Green, who makes his off-season home in Atlanta. "That's why they pay me the big bucks. To make plays like that."

- With 337 yards passing secured with a 109.5 passer rating, quarterback Andy Dalton passed Boomer Esiason for the most 300-yard Bengals games in memorable fashion. After engineering his 19th fourth-quarter comeback, Dalton shrugged when asked about Green's emotion.

"It's his city," he said.

- Dalton said he actually felt bad for the Falcons losing a shoot-out on the final drive for the second straight week.

"I'm just glad we had the ball last," Dalton said …

- Green was raving about Boyd's career-high 11 catches for 100 yards, including two fourth-down conversions..

"Tough. He's a tough guy. I've seen him grow," Green said.

Boyd got dinged and came back at least twice Sunday, once after the first conversion. Tapping his thigh he said, "Blue collar." One was a stop route they overplayed over the middle and the other a slant out. Both called plays.

"They were man-to-man both times," Boyd said. "I was looking at the DB's eyes seeing how he was going to play it." …

- Bengals all-time leading receiver Chad Johnson had his chat with embattled wide receiver John Ross this weekend. It came on the field pregame and Ross appreciated the gesture.

"He just told me to go out and enjoy the game. Have fun," Ross said. "I also talked to T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) today. They had such great careers here. For them to want to help me feels great."

Boy, did he ever have fun. After getting ripped for a shaky game last Sunday in Carolina in which he allowed two interceptions, Ross caught a 39-yard TD out of the slot to put the Bengals up 21-14. More importantly, he got hurt during the play with what looked to be a pulled muscle and kept playing. Later he made a great diving, stretch catch on the sidelines. He's not sure what he injured and will be examined Monday. He couldn't play in that last drive, but the message was sent to his teammates and coaches by then. He said he wasn't looking to do that.

"You have to let it go," Ross said. "You can't hang on to it." …

- Right end Carl Lawson couldn't have picked a more perfect time for his first two sacks of the season. Both came in the wild second half. And while the first one netted him a roughing the passer penalty, the second one came on third down and forced the Falcons to kick a field goal with 4:15 left and make the winning drive possible.

But it was the kind of day even the defense wanted to talk offense.

"A.J. Green," said Lawson, "is just unbelievable. That's why they give him the big money."

Lawson says he has no idea why they called roughing on him. He made it a point not to fall on Matt Ryan.

"I moved to the side. It was going through my mind as I was doing it," Lawson said. "You can get hurt doing that … I'm not sure what to do."

_Running back Joe Mixon, inactive but showing why he'll be able to return next Sunday, was one of the first guys to greet Green in the end zone. Just 15 days off a knee scope, Mixon went racing down the sideline and jumped on Green's back.

"You know it," Mixon said ...

_The pitfalls of having just two active backs surfaced.when Bernard went down with an injury he says won't keep him out. When rookie running back Mark Walton need a blow, they turned to kick returner-wide receiver Alex Erickson and he had a carry for eight yards ...

Eifert left with an air cast wrapped around his ankle after making a catch early in the second half and was carted off with what was believed to be his third straight season-ending injury …

- It's as emotional as you'll ever see Green as he came charging off the field bellowing, "This is my city."

His arch-rival Julio Jones had nine catches for 173 yards, but still no TDs this season. Green, who had four catches for 78 yards, went a quarter without a catch until that last one, his fifth TD of the season.

He'll take it.

"Oh man. I'm not a numbers guy. I'm looking for the win," said Green, who makes his off-season home in Atlanta. "That's why they pay me the big bucks. To make plays like that."

- With 337 yards passing secured with a 109.5 passer rating, quarterback Andy Dalton passed Boomer Esiason for the most 300-yard Bengals games in memorable fashion. After engineering his 19th fourth-quarter comeback, Dalton shrugged when asked about Green's emotion.

"It's his city," he said.

- Dalton said he actually felt bad for the Falcons losing a shoot-out on the final drive for the second straight week.

"I'm just glad we had the ball last," Dalton said …

- Green was raving about Boyd's career-high 11 catches for 100 yards, including two fourth-down conversions..

"Tough. He's a tough guy. I've seen him grow," Green said.

Boyd got dinged and came back at least twice Sunday, once after the first conversion. Tapping his thigh he said, "Blue collar." One was an out and the other a slant. Both called plays.

"They were man-to-man both times," Boyd said. "I was looking at the DB's eyes seeing how he was going to play it." …

- Bengals all-time leading receiver Chad Johnson had his chat with embattled wide receiver John Ross this weekend. It came on the field pregame and Ross appreciated the gesture.

"He just told me to go out and enjoy the game. Have fun," Ross said. "I also talked to T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) today. They had such great careers here. For them to want to help me feels great."

Boy, did he ever have fun. After getting ripped for a shaky game last Sunday in Carolina in which he allowed two interceptions, Ross caught a 39-yard TD out of the slot to put the Bengals up 21-14. More importantly, he got hurt during the play with what looked to be a pulled muscle and kept playing. Later he made a great diving, stretch catch on the sidelines. He's not sure what he injured and will be examined Monday. He couldn't play in that last drive, but the message was sent to his teammates and coaches by then. He said he wasn't looking to do that.

"You have to let it go," Ross said. "You can't hang on to it." …

- Right end Carl Lawson couldn't have picked a more perfect time for his first two sacks of the season. Both came in the wild second half. And while the first one netted him a roughing the passer penalty, the second one came on second down and forced the Falcons to kick a field goal with 4:15 left and make the winning drive possible.

But it was the kind of day even the defense wanted to talk offense.

"A.J. Green," said Lawson, "is just unbelievable. That's why they give him the big money."

Lawson says he has no idea why they called roughing on him. He made it a point not to fall on Matt Ryan.

"I moved to the side. It was going through my mind as I was doing it," Lawson said. "You can get hurt doing that … I'm not sure what to do."

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