2. Bengals 17, Broncos 20 (OT)
Two losses in the Bengals’ top three games of the season? It’s a bummer to have to put the Bengals’ defeats so high on this list, but frankly, they were the best games to watch.
The most exciting moment of the 2015 season, hands down, was Brandon McManus‘ shanked field goal to send this game to overtime. The next-most exciting moment doesn’t come anywhere near the excitement level the missed kick brought. That alone puts this game so high up on the list.
But it wasn’t just the missed field goal that made this game so great.
A.J. McCarron unexpectedly took the reigns after Dalton suffered a thumb injury late in the season. Before 2015, most Bengals fans likely would’ve expected McCarron to earn his first start due to a bad Dalton performance over a Dalton injury. In retrospect, the notion that fans wanted Dalton to get benched is just preposterous. However, McCarron has done a tremendous job in Dalton’s place, as evidenced in the Bengals’ loss to the Broncos.
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Facing the league’s best defense, McCarron passed for 200 yards and a touchdown, playing a mistake-free game until he lost a fumble on the final snap. Despite the ugly finish to what was a fantastic game, McCarron’s tremendous performance gave Bengals fans a glimmer of hope that he could potentially be an adequate replacement for Dalton in the starter’s absence.
On defense, the Bengals played great as well. Carlos Dunlap finished the game with three sacks (which we predicted earlier on in the week) and became the Bengals’ all-time sack leader. The Bengals added three pass defenses and a forced fumble, clamping down on the Broncos offense.
The one huge negative for the Bengals came in the form of a missed field goal from Mike Nugent. Had he drilled the kick, it’s entirely possible that the Bengals could’ve preserved their momentum and held onto the lead.
Regardless, this was a great game, well-deserving of the second-highest spot on the list.
What made this game special:
In retrospect, the Broncos are now the AFC’s top team. The Bengals took them to overtime–with their backup quarterback, in Denver, under the lights. The team’s ability to compete in such a hostile environment is assuring, heading into the postseason.
Next: 1. Seahawks 24, Bengals 27 (OT)