The Cincinnati Bengals overcame three first-half interceptions from Andy Dalton to hand the Tampa Buccaneers a 14-13 loss on Sunday. Our takeaways:





1. Credit Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis with a heads-up move in a bizarre last-minute scenario that changed the outcome of the game. Louis Murphy caught a 21-yard pass to put Tampa Bay in easy field-goal position with just seconds remaining, but Lewis pointed out to the officials that the Bucs lined up with 12 men on the field. Upon replay review, Josh McCown‘s offense was pushed out of field-goal range and never got close enough to attempt a kick. If the Bengals end up winning the AFC North, they have Lewis’ awareness to thank.

2. Battling a touch of the flu, Dalton needed two IVs to suit up on Sunday. Although his first half was one of the worst by any quarterback this season, he bounced back with a solid enough second half, hitting A.J. Green for a third-quarter touchdown that stood as the game-winner. It wasn’t exactly Michael Jordan versus the Utah Jazz.

3. The Bucs lined up offensive tackle Oniel Cousins as a tight end and turned the backfield over to a more decisive Doug Martin, who channeled 2012 form with a season-high 55 yards by halftime. The Bengals‘ defense stiffened in the second half, though, limiting Martin to two yards on five carries. It’s telling that Martin managed just 3.2 yards per carry in his best performance of the year.


4. Seventh-round rookie James Wright led the Bengals with 59 yards on three catches, including a spectacular sideline grab in the fourth quarter. The performance validated his elevation past Greg Little on the depth chart.

5. The Bengals have allowed the fewest receiving touchdowns in the league this year and kept Mike Evans out of the end zone for the first time in over a month. Evans just missed two highlight-reel boundary catches, one in the back of the end zone and the other on the sideline. It’s amazing he hasn’t been called for push-offs more often this season.

6. With the other three AFC North teams losing on Sunday, Cincinnati now enjoys a 1.5-game lead in the division.

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