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TDBH: Bengals win instant replay on Nugent at the gun
October 20, 2017 04:00 AM | Geoff Hobson

DETROIT - The Bengals overcome cornerback Leon Hall's second season-ending torn Achilles in three years, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's 357 passing yards, and Detroit's all-out run defense to post their second straight 27-24 win on the afternoon's last play to silence a hostile stadium and put the Bengals among the AFC leaders at 5-2. Last week it is Mike Nugent's 43-yard field goal in overtime in Buffalo. Today it is Nugent's 54-yarder on the last play of regulation at Ford Field, tying Doug Pelfrey's longest winning field goal in franchise history. It is also the first time since Pelfrey in 1994 that the Bengals have won back-to-back games on walk-off field goals."For the second straight week it took all three phases to win the game at the end and that says something about the entire team," says left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

The Bengals ride quarterback Andy Dalton's career-best 135.9 passer rating when he coolly outduels Stafford with 372 yards, lifting him to a .650 road winning percentage in his 20th away start. "They shot the gaps. They did everything to stop the run. They said that's not going to happen. They said Andy Dalton is going to have to beat us," Whitworth says. "And he made some great throws." For the second week in a row the formula is the same at the end. The Bengals need a Kevin Huber punt, a defensive stand, an offensive flurry, and field goal. Huber puts the punt inside the Lions 10 to set up the defensive stand. Last week it is Brandon Tate's punt return that sets up Nugent. This week it is a poor punt by Lions rookie Sam Martin that gives the Bengals the ball at their own 49. "On the sidelines we were saying, 'Just like last week,' "says special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons the next day. "Everything had to work together. Kevin's punt started it and thank God we were able to make it work at the end." Before the game head coach Marvin Lewis writes on his sheet "36," for the yard-line he wants to get Nugent if a field goal at the gun is needed. And that's where running back Giovani Bernard puts the ball with four seconds left after he two-arms an eight-yard dump pass from Dalton on the snap following a seven-yard-gut-check pass over the middle to wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher.

Naturally, after more than 700 yards blow through Ford, it comes down to two field goals, Nugent's make and Bengals left end Carlos Dunlap's block with 2:17 left in the first half. The Bengals probably don't go down to score with 41 seconds left because Dunlap's block wouldn't have set them up at the Lions 40 just before the two-minute warning. Instead of leading 14-10 at the half the Bengals probably trail, 13-7. But enter the 6-6 Dunlap walking up the middle and blocking it with his chest. Simmons sees SAM linebacker James Harrison help set up Dunlap with a move of his own. "(Dunlap) has got one this year and he's been close to a couple of others," Simmons says. "Look at him. He's lean, he's athletic, but the thing about Carlos is that he works at it. He really wants to make that play. It can change games. I think we just did really well executing it. James Harrison really helped him make the play."

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