Without a doubt, Carlos Dunlap kick-started the domino that led to Cincinnati's eventual 24-14 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Faced with laughable embarrassment from their defeat against Cleveland last week (because no one claims such things), the 49ers' defense played inspired against a Bengals offense that featured a second-year (and inexperienced) quarterback and a rookie tight end, all the while A.J. Green was nursing a back injury that he suffered during Saturday's practice.
Regardless, the rushing offense struggled (including during the mysterious first quarter absence from Jeremy Hill) and backup quarterback AJ McCarron often appeared indecisive -- expected from an inexperienced quarterback making his first start in the NFL -- leading to scrambles and four quarterback sacks.
Against the 49ers, the Bengals' offense punted on four of their first five possessions:
Thankfully Cincinnati's defense, in combination with a horrific 49ers' offense, kept scenarios both favorable and controllable. Regardless, the 49ers and Bengals exchanged punts and sung bedtime songs that helped even the most troublesome cases of sleep apnea.
Yet, it was the Bengals' defense that ignited a Hollywood story that resulted in victory.
With 8:13 remaining in the second quarter, quarterback Blaine Gabbert completed a 12-yard pass to 49ers Anquan Boldin. Carlos Dunlap, in coverage, not only tackled Boldin, but stripped the football and returned it 21 yards to the 49ers 11-yard line.
"I saw the way he was carrying the ball and it was an opportunity to make a play," Dunlap said via Bengals.com. "We weren’t driving the ball as much as we wanted on offense. Right there that put them in great field position and we lit it up from there."
Five plays later, the Bengals took a 7-0 lead on Jeremy Hill's one-yard touchdown.
Cincinnati eventually outscored the 49ers, 21-0 in the second quarter, leading to a 24-14 win over San Francisco.