They tried to give it away. But when the Cincinnati Bengals really needed to come through, they did.
How many times have you been able to say that about the league's worst team this year?
Despite rallying from 35-12 down in the fourth quarter to force overtime, the Bengals came out with the loss, 38-35 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, to lock up the first overall pick in next year's draft.
The loss, not secured until the Dolphins kicked the winning field goal with no time on the clock in the extra period, dropped the Bengals to 1-14, and no matter what happens in the final week of the regular season, no one can catch them.
A win would've kept the Dolphins and Redskins in the mix for the top pick, with the drama coming down to the final week — the way it usually does. But Cincinnati separated itself early this season, and even if it closes the year with a win next week over Cleveland, it will have the league's worst record.
There's speculation the Bengals might pick Heisman Trophy quarterback Joe Burrow of LSU.
In case you missed it, here's more of the good, bad and ugly from Week 16 in the NFL:
LOSING WITH STYLE: The Browns might be a huge disappointment. Don't say they've gone down quietly. After scoring a touchdown, Cleveland receiver Odell Beckham Jr., ripped off his helmet and chucked it at the bench, then got involved in a heated discussion with coach Freddie Kitchens on the sideline. Both coach and player said Beckham was upset with the refs. Maybe the score, too. The Browns fell 31-15 to the Ravens to drop to 6-9 and meet official playoff elimination. On a lighter note, the cleats Beckham wore for pregame warmups — green, Grinch-themed shoes with his initials outlined in white-and-red candy cane piping — were pretty cool.
HOW BOUT DAT: Remember when the Cowboys found their identity with a bruising running game that was setting them up to not only make the playoffs but maybe win a game or two once they got there? Yeah, that was last week. Bad Dallas resurfaced at the worst time, rushing for a grand total of 54 yards and failing to put up a touchdown in a 17-9 loss to Philadelphia. The result puts the Eagles in the driver's seat for the NFC East (A win or a Dallas loss next week and they're in) and rekindles questions about how long this group in Dallas, especially coach Jason Garrett, can stay together.
SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD: Safe to say that Panthers defensive lineman Vernon Butler didn't really care what the crowd in Indy thought. Ejected after punching Colts tight end Jack Doyle in the face, Butler flashed an obscene gesture to the crowd as he was heading for the tunnel. "I should keep my cool,” Butler said in the postgame interview. “I’m a better person than that.” Nevertheless, he'll be receiving a fine from the NFL this week.
SO YOU'RE SAYING THERE'S A CHANCE: Everything Oakland needed to happen to stay alive in the playoff chase did. But talk about hanging by a thread. To keep hopes alive for the AFC's last spot, the Raiders (7-8) need next Sunday to be a repeat of this week — a Pittsburgh loss, a Tennessee loss and their own victory — with an extra little cherry on top. They also need an Indianapolis win over Jacksonville in a game neither team particularly needs. That scenario would create a four-way tie at 8-8 and the Raiders would likely win that tiebreaker based on strength of victory. Good luck with that, Raiders, and keep your calculators handy.
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