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Bengals Week 1 game ball goes to Evan McPherson

The rookie kicker proved to be worth the fifth-round draft selection in the highest pressure situation you can imagine in the regular season.

Syndication: The Enquirer
Bengals rookie Evan McPherson celebrates his game-winning kick.
Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services, LLC

As the clock struck 0:00 at the end of the overtime period on Sunday, Evan McPherson did something that hasn’t been done since before he was born. No Cincinnati Bengals kicker since Doug Pelfrey in 1995 had kicked a game winning field goal on Opening Day.

The rookie kicker was as advertised all afternoon. Early in the fourth quarter, his number was called for the first time (excluding extra points) to get the team crucial points from 53 yards out. For the first time in... well, I don’t even know how long, Bengals fans were confident in their kicker. McPherson stepped in, got a perfect hold from Kevin Huber and booted it through the uprights. There was never a question.

The next time they called his number, the outcome of the game was squarely on the shoulders of No. 2. After the Minnesota Vikings called the ceremonial timeout to “ice” him, but the only ice was in the former Gator’s veins. Actually, he got a nice practice kick off right after the timeout was called, sending former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer into an expletive-laced tirade. It sailed through the uprights easily. When it counted, the kick was just as smooth.

Head coach Zac Taylor may have made some questionable decisions to keep the special teams unit on the sidelines Sunday afternoon, but the confidence in his kicker was on full display.

“Somebody stood up on the table (in the draft) for him and said, ‘This guy is going to win us games,” Taylor said.

“I could give out a lot of game balls, but Evan McPherson’s first game of his career...,” Taylor continued.

He’s right, he could’ve given out a lot of game balls. Larry Ogunjobi was exactly what he was signed to be, Joe Mixon ran for the tough yards when they were needed and Joe Burrow was, well, the guy we knew he was in his first game back from a major knee injury. The game ball could’ve been tossed to Ja’Marr Chase (and he would’ve caught it) for blocking out the noise from his preseason struggles. Ultimately, the game ball went to the rookie who made the biggest play of the day.

The walk-off field goal also extended one of the crazier stats you’ll hear about in the NFL. You may not believe it, but the Bengals have never scored an offensive touchdown in an overtime period.

Obscure stat or no obscure stat, Who Dey Nation went to bed Sunday night happy, probably a little tired and with something that hasn’t been felt in a long time: Confidence in their kicker.

Week 1, one win and a rookie with a game ball he won’t soon forget.