That was the lone thought rattling in my head when Mike Nugent's 36-yard field goal sailed wide right. Unbelievable... a tie? Is that better or worse than a loss? Percentage-wise it helps but it burns Cincinnati if tiebreakers are used for the division championship (Baltimore crushed Carolina earlier this year). A tie. What a rip. When it was over, I had to step away. Leave the computer alone. Flip the phone into silent mode. Have dinner. Something... anything.
Converting the 36-yard field goal as time expired in overtime, should have sealed Cincinnati's twelfth-consecutive regular season win at home. Instead the Bengals end with a deflating 37-37 tie and a 3-1-1 record.
Sunday's overtime miss is Nugent's sixth this season. After converting five first half field goals against the Baltimore Ravens in week one, Nugent had one blocked in that game and then missed three against the Atlanta Falcons and another against New England. Prior to his miss against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Nugent accurately hit field goals at 44, 38, and 42 yards -- his last two giving the Bengals an opportunity to keep with Carolina.
Thank you, Adam Jones, for always being so damn candid. Says "everybody gets paid to do a job. So do your job."— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 12, 2014
Yet, it's the miss that will be remembered.
But it's hardly the only contribution that led to Cincinnati's tie on Sunday.
Cincinnati's defense, who allowed 431 yards and 37 points, had serious tackling "issues" and untimely penalties -- some of which shouldn't have been called... so let's fingerpoint the officials too. The Bengals pass rush was absent and Cam Newton was the Cam Newton of old, rushing for 107 yards rushing and his first rushing touchdown of the season. Carolina converted both fourth downs and 47 percent of their third downs.
In the past two games, the Bengals have allowed 80 points, 936 yards and 59 first downs. Clearly this isn't a defense that we're used to. It's a shell of an unexpected and unacceptable transition. Did the departure of Mike Zimmer and Michael Johnson lead to this? What else has changed?
Then there's the two interceptions by Andy Dalton, which led to a touchdown and missed field goal. One pass is best described as a flailing duck (elbow was hit, football tipped?) and the other was poorly overthrown to Jermaine Gresham. In the game of "should haves", neither one of those should have been thrown.
And then there's the 13 penalties that accounted for 119 yards against Cincinnati -- five of which led to a first down for the opposition. Five!
Nugent's miss will be the one that's remembered... and justifiably too. He's tasked with converting field goals, just as much as the defense is tasked with making tackles. In the end, 75 minutes led to this... this disgusting tie.