Late in the NFL season, some pundits and fans look for style points when a team is headed to the postseason, but not when a team has their backup quarterback pressed into service. AJ McCarron did an admirable job and the team came away with a win, as well as a ticket to the 2015 postseason.
There were a number of big plays to choose from in selecting the best plays from the Bengals' 24-14 win over the 49ers, so cast your vote and sound off on your selection for the Play of the Week!
A.J. Green's 37-Yard Catch:
While it didn't lead to points, the throw was an early confidence-builder for the Bengals and McCarron. Green beat the defender down the right sideline and hauled in a 37-yard beauty. One could argue that had he led Green in a little further, it could have gone for a touchdown, but the coverage might not have allowed it. Regardless, it was the second such play in consecutive weeks between the two guys with the same name.
Carlos Dunlap's Forced Fumble and Recovery:
Neither team was doing much of anything on offense and third down efficiency was deplorable. Recognizing the need for the Bengals to make a big play on defense, Dunlap stepped up. On a third-and-11, the defensive end peeled off into coverage and went after Anquan Boldin after he made the catch. As the veteran receiver went past the sticks, Dunlap jarred the ball loose, recovered it and returned it deep into San Francisco territory. It set up a Jeremy Hill one-yard touchdown moments later.
Vontaze Burfict's Second Quarter Interception:
The Bengals scored 21 of their 24 total points in the second quarter, and it's no coincidence that they had three of their four turnovers in the period. After Cincinnati capitalized on Dunlap's play and a shanked punt by Bradley Pinion to put them up 14-0, the Bengals' defense wasn't done. Burfict was Johnny-on-the-spot with an interception that bounced off of Vance McDonald's hands.
Tyler Kroft's 20-Yard Touchdown Reception:
It was time to go for the throat as the 49ers were reeling from a number of offensive miscues. Burfict put them in prime position with under a minute to go before halftime and McCarron delivered a punishing blow to San Francisco. The Bengals faked the draw and with the 49ers not respecting the Bengals' ability to throw the ball with a backup quarterback and backup tight end in the lineup, McCarron threw to Kroft, who found a soft spot in the defense.
Marvin Jones' 47-Yard Catch:
After halftime, the Bengals received the kickoff and wanted to build off of the second quarter momentum they had built. They chipped away at the 49ers' defense, culminating in a field go to go up 24-0. The big play of the drive was a nice catch by Jones in coverage after he had been flagged for holding just one play earlier.
Shawn Williams' Game-Sealing Interception:
San Francisco made it interesting at the end, getting two fourth quarter touchdowns and having one field goal blocked, and were knocking on the Bengals' door with a couple of minutes left to play. Down 24-14 and having just recovered an onside kick, Blaine Gabbert got San Francisco down to the Bengals' 28-yard line. He sailed a pass on first down, but it was too late as Williams shot over and made a critical interception in the endzone.