CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals hauls in a catch for the first down at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
It's not that hard really. When asked what the biggest play was against the Cleveland Browns during Cincinnati's 23-20 win, you could nominate plays. Such as Mike Nugent's game-winning field goal. Geno Atkins on the ______ (fill in the blank) fourth-quarter play. You could even nominate Jerome Simpson's epic flop and Andy Dalton's amusement afterwards for the simple laughter that evoked.
Truth is there's really only one.
Game tied at 20 with 1:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Cincinnati Bengals line up at their own 47-yard line with eight yards needed to convert the third down. Incomplete pass gives the Browns roughly a minute remaining with all three time outs. A completion forces Cleveland to use their time outs as Cincinnati inches closer to their own endzone.
A.J. Green just said, "screw it". Andy Dalton said, "eye-eat."
Just before he's getting buried by defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (we think we got that right), Andy Dalton threw the football down the middle of the field where A.J. Green jumped into the air and converted the third down 51 yards over his archenemies Joe Haden, pushed out of bounds at the Browns two-yard line. Mike Nugent would convert the game-winning field goal later.
Obviously the reception setup the game-winner but the other benefit it had was preventing the Browns from taking possession with a minute remaining in the game due to the third down conversion.