The Cincinnati Bengals needed the leg of Mike Nugent to win the game for the second straight week, but didn't wait for overtime in Detroit as Nugent nailed a 54-yard field goal as time expired to win the game 27-24 on Sunday at Ford Field.
The Bengals (5-2) have now won three straight including back-to-back road wins. Cincinnati also improved to 2-1 against the NFC North with only a Dec. 22 showdown against the Minnesota Vikings left. The Lions (4-3) have lost two of their last three.
The showdown between two young quarterbacks and their talented top receivers was in full effect on Sunday. Andy Dalton connected with A.J. Green six times for 155 yards including an 82-yard touchdown reception to start the scoring. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson (aka "Megatron") hooked up nine times, also for 155 yards and two scores.
It was a rough day for the already depleted Bengals' secondary as they not only allowed 357 yards and three touchdowns, but also lost Leon Hall to an Achilles injury. It was the first time in 20 games that the Cincinnati defense had allowed a quarterback to throw for over 300 yards, which is impressive considering the Bengals have faced the likes of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers already this season.
Detroit stalled on its first drive of the game, but was able to pin Cincinnati deep in its own territory. The Lions stopped the Bengals on a third and two, but an offisdes penalty not only picked up the first down, but led to the 82-yard score by Green.
Stafford and company responded with a 16 play scoring drive that lasted nearly eight minutes. The Lions converted four third downs including a third and goal when Stafford found his tight end, Brandon Pettigrew, for the tying TD. They nearly scored three plays later when Dalton was sacked and Ndamukong Suh scooped up the ball for a touchdown, but once again, an offsides penalty nullified the big defensive play. Cincinnati would end up punting and Detroit responded with a 13 play drive that resulted in a David Akers field goal.
The next drive for each team ended in kicking woes for Akers and Nugent. The Bengals drove to the red zone, but were set back to a second and long after and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Jermaine Gresham. That led to a 47-yard attempt by Nugent, but it sailed wide left. The Lions marched to the Cincinnati 16-yard line, but Akers kick was blocked and then scooped up by Reggie Nelson. Nelson fumbled on the return, but Dre Kirkpatrick was able to pick it up and run for an extra nine yards to the Detroit 40.
The Bengals were able to punch it in with under a minute left in the half when Dalton connected with Marvin Jones for a 12-yard touchdown and the 14-10 lead. The Lions ran out the clock to finish off the first half.
Cincinnati wasted no time moving the ball on the first drive of the second half as Dalton and Jones hooked up twice on the drive in long yardage situations. First Jones erased a third and 12 with an 18-yard catch and then a second and 11 with a 16-yard reception. The drive was finished off with a fine catch by Tyler Eifert in the corner of the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown and a 21-10 lead.
Stafford rallied the troops with a big third down conversion as he wiped out a third and 20 with a 43-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree. Then it was "Megatron's" turn as he reeled in a 19-yard reception and then brought in a 27-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 21-17.
The Bengals answered with a 48-yard field goal from Nugent to push the lead to seven. Cincinnati forced Detroit to punt, but a overturned review stalled the Bengals next drive to end the third quarter.
The Lions offense turned it up in the fourth quarter as Stafford went for the big play on a third and one and got it when he found Reggie Bush for 27 yards. Three plays later Stafford avoided a sack and then heaved the ball into triple coverage, but it was Johnson who brought in the 50-yard touchdown over the heads of the Bengals' defenders to tie the game.
Cincinnati tried a deep ball of its own, but Green could not come down with it and the Bengals were forced to punt. Detroit looked to pick up a first down on a third and 11, but Cincinnati challenged the ruling and it was reversed to an incomplete pass leading to a Lions' punt.
The Bengals drive stalled at midfield when Dalton was sacked by Suh to force another punt. This time Kevin Huber was able to pin the Lions inside the ten yard line. Detroit got out to its own 23, but a bad punt Sam Martin gave the Bengals the ball at their own 49-yard line with 26 seconds left.
Dalton found Dane Sanzenbacher for seven yards to get into Detroit territory and then completed it to Giovani Bernard for another eight to set up a 54-yard attempt by Nugent with four seconds left. Nugent's kick tucked itself just inside the right upright to win the game as time expired.
The Bengals return to Paul Brown Stadium next Sunday for a 4:05 p.m. showdown with the New York Jets. The Jets (4-3) are coming off a stunning upset of the Patriots in overtime. Cincinnati is looking to stay perfect against the AFC East as they have already defeated Buffalo and New England.
Passing: CIN-Dalton (24-34, 372 yards, 3 TD) DET-Stafford (28-51, 357 yards, 3 TD)
Rushing: CIN-Bernard (7 carries, 27 yards) DET-Bush (20 carries, 50 yards)
Receiving: CIN-Green (6 catches, 155 yards, TD) DET-Johnson (9 catches, 155 yards, 2 TD)
Tackles: CIN-Vontaze Burfict (13) DET-Stephen Tulloch (12)
Sacks: CIN-0 DET-1
Turnovers: CIN-0 DET-0