Cincinnati 96 can clinch the final AFC wild car

Cincinnati 96 can clinch the final AFC wild car

first_imgCincinnati (9-6) can clinch the final AFC wild card berth by beatingBaltimore at Paul Brown Stadium next Sunday. The Bengals moved agame ahead of the Jets, who fell to 8-7 with a 29-14 loss to the Giantson Saturday.“It’s been a big year for me and for this team,” rookie quarterback AndyDalton said. “It’s something we believed we had a chance to do. Weweren’t getting much credit from outside. We’ll find out next week.”Dalton threw two more touchdown passes, becoming only the fourthrookie to have 20 in a season, and Cincinnati got a break when the NFL’stop comeback team tripped itself up in the closing minutes.Wide-open receiver Early Doucet tripped at the goal line and went down,letting a fourth-down pass fall incomplete with 1:12 left. The Cardinals(7-8) got the ball one more time, but the clock ran out after acompletion.A few minutes later, the Jets’ loss put the Bengals in position to reach theplayoffs. New York would have won the tiebreaker if both teams won out.“We started this quite a while ago – seems like just yesterday,” coachMarvin Lewis said. “But now we’re right where we want to be at the end.” What an MLB source said about the D-backs' trade haul for Greinke D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise 'still focused on Arizona' Their rookie quarterback put them in position.Dalton threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham and a19-yarder to Jerome Simpson, who did a somersault over a defender andlanded on both feet in the end zone.Dalton joined Peyton Manning (26), Charlie Conerly (22) and Dan Marino(20) as the only NFL rookies to throw 20 touchdown passes.Down 23-0 heading into the fourth quarter, the NFL’s best comebackteam nearly pulled off its most improbable one yet. Arizona tookadvantage of Cedric Benson’s two fumbles, getting a pair of touchdownpasses by John Skelton and Jay Feely’s field goal with 3:16 left.The Cardinals then had their chance to pull even. The Bengals ran an all-out blitz on fourth down from the Cincinnati 17-yard line, and Doucetwound up uncovered at the goal line. Skelton lofted the ball into the endzone, but Doucet tripped and fell.“It was a blitz and nobody was there,” Doucet said. “It was one of thosedeals where I hadn’t hooked it up and my feet got tangled. It’s a play Ishould’ve made. It was my fault. That’s a play I normally make.”The Cardinals had their four-game winning streak snapped and wereeliminated from playoff contention. Simpson got open for a catch-and-run to the goal line. With DarylWashington between him and the end zone, Simpson jumped and twirledpast the linebacker, landing on both feet in the end zone and raisingboth arms like a triumphant gymnast.“One of the key parts for me was I stuck the landing,” Simpson said. “Istuck the landing like a gymnast. That was probably one of the mostsurprising of all the plays in my career. It was pretty awesome, Ithought.”For most of the game, the Cardinals couldn’t do anything right. Rookiecornerback Patrick Peterson picked off a Dalton pass in the third quarter,but the interception was nullified by Arizona’s second roughing-the-passer penalty of the game.Worse, Peterson hurt his left hamstring on the play, pulling up on thereturn. The first-round pick left the game and didn’t return. He wore aprotective boot after the game.“He’s got a strain, it’s not a tear,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We’refortunate that it doesn’t appear to anything long term.”Notes: Beanie Wells became the first Cardinal to run for 1,000 yards and10 touchdowns in a season. … After the game, the Bengals made a buy-one, get-one-free offer to season ticket holders, trying to fill thestadium for the final game. … A.J. Green, playing with a strained rightshoulder, had two catches for 25 yards. He passed Cris Collinsworth’sclub record for a rookie with 1,013 yards on the season. Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation CINCINNATI (AP) The stadium was only two-thirds full again. TheCardinals were on another one of their incredible comebacks,threatening to derail the Cincinnati Bengals’ surprising playoff surge.A pair of tangled up feet made the difference.The Bengals moved one win away from the playoffs Saturday, holding onfor a 23-16 victory over Arizona that secured only their third winningrecord in the past 21 years. Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away Cincinnati’s defense dominated the first three quarters. Arizona didn’tcross midfield until Skelton completed a pass with 13:25 to go, but piledup 208 yards in the final quarter.Skelton started for the second consecutive week in place of Kevin Kolb,who hasn’t fully recovered from a concussion. Skelton was 23 of 44 for297 yards with three interceptions and five sacks that helped the Bengalsget the 23-0 lead.It could have been worse. Mike Nugent, the NFL’s most accurate kicker,missed field goals of 35 and 48 yards in the first half.Arizona has rallied from fourth-quarter deficits six times this season,one shy of the NFL record. The Cardinals have won three games inovertime, tying the league record.They couldn’t do it one more time.“Yeah, we’re a second-half team,” Skelton said. “That’s how it has beenall year. But in the end, it was too little, too late.”Dalton was 18 of 31 for 154 yards and two touchdowns on a sunny, 39-degree afternoon in front of only 41,273 fans. The Bengals have sold outonly one of their seven home games, when the Steelers broughtthousands of fans.Dalton’s second touchdown pass had a highlight finish. Top Stories Comments   Share   last_img

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