One would be right in voting for A.J. Green as the proverbial most valuable player of the game. After all it was his juggling touchdown reception that gave Cincinnati a 23-16 lead with five minutes remaining. Perhaps there's a desensitization involved here... we just expect those type of plays from Green. Yet Cincinnati hadn't sealed their regular season opener just yet. Baltimore had two time outs and five minutes remaining to work the length of the field at their own pace.
And they nearly did.
Eleven plays into a possession that began at their own 12-yard line, the Ravens reached the Bengals 16-yard line with 1:09 remaining in the fourth. All they needed was a touchdown to basically send the game into overtime (unless they went for two on the PAT... which they wouldn't have). Yet they had to absorb as many seconds as possible. Cincinnati could easily connect on a play or two for a chance at a Mike Nugent field goal.
Instead, defensive end Wallace Gilberry sacked Flacco on third and fourth downs (shared with Reggie Nelson), collectively ending the game by forcing a turnover over on downs without any time outs remaining.
"It's an out of body experience," Gilberry said after the game. "We knew we couldn't take that team into overtime. We knew we couldn't let them on the board. I just took it upon myself with the calls that I was given, and with the effort my teammates were giving me, to make those plays."
It was Green that gave Cincinnati the lead. But it was Gilberry that effectively sealed the win.
"You just try to win every play, and that was a new play for the game, and coach (Paul Guenther) dialed up a great call. The secondary played great in coverage, allowing [Joe] Flacco to hold it one second longer than he wanted to. So, I was there and able to take care of business."
Gilberry finished the game with four tackles, 1.5 quarterback sacks, a tackle-for-loss, a pass deflection, and two additional hits on the quarterback.