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CINCINNATI – Call it the place where dreams of game-winning kicks go to tie.
For the second time in seven seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals walked off their home field trying to figure out what to make of a game with no winner. So did Carolina receiver Jason Avant, who was part of both of them.
There's just no way to put it into words.
Mike Nugent rushed his 36-yard field goal try as overtime ended on Sunday, pushing it wide right and leaving the Bengals to settle for a 37-all tie with the Panthers.
"That was the worst ball I've ever hit in my career," Nugent said. "My plant foot was way too far forward. I think there was a little excitement. I was a little too quick."
With that, a game that went 3 hours, 59 minutes long had reached a wholly unsatisfying conclusion.
"I'm treating it as if it was a loss," said Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker, who had a 4-yard touchdown run. "We had many opportunities to win it. But it doesn't hurt as bad (as a loss), I guess."
The last overtime game at Paul Brown Stadium was in 2008 with the Eagles, which ended in a 13-all tie. Avant was with Philadelphia for that one.
"It's not as bad as a loss, but pretty close," he said. "When you think about playing, you never think about tying."
Unless you're in Cincinnati, that is.
It was tougher for the Bengals (3-1-1) to accept. Andy Dalton was nearly perfect in overtime — his only incompletion was a throwaway to avoid a sack — as he put his team in position to win it. Instead, he learned for the first time in his career what it's like to have no winner.
"It's a weird feeling," Dalton said. "I've never been part of a tie. You didn't lose, but you didn't win. We had our chances and when you don't win, it's tough."
Carolina (3-2-1) was energized by Cam Newton's re-emergence as a dual-threat quarterback. The Panthers had limited his running as he recovered from offseason ankle surgery and cracked ribs suffered in the preseason. They turned him loose on Sunday, and he repeatedly led late comebacks.
All for naught, of course.
Some things to take away from a fittingly tied finish:
ALL TIED UP: It's the third tie in the NFL in the last three years. San Francisco and St. Louis played to a 24-all tie in 2012. The NFL changed the overtime rules to avoid having games end on a quick field goal by the receiving team, and Minnesota and Green Bay finished 26-all last season under the new format. The 74 combined points were the third-most in an NFL tie, according to STATS. The Patriots and Raiders tied 43-all in 1964. The Broncos and Bills tied 38-all in 1960.
It's also the fourth time the Bengals have gone overtime in their last 16 regular season games. They were 1-2 in overtime last season at Buffalo, Miami and Baltimore.
DALTON WITHOUT GREEN: Receiver A.J. Green was inactive for the second time in his career with an injured big right toe. Dalton went to Mohamed Sanu (10 catches for 120 yards) and Jermaine Gresham (six catches for 68 yards) to compensate. Overall, Dalton was 33 of 43 for 323 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also was sacked for only the second time this season.
BIG PLAYS: Giovani Bernard carried 18 times for a career-high 137 yards. That included an 89-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that was the second-longest in Bengals history. Corey Dillon ran 96 yards for a touchdown at Detroit in 2001. Cincinnati's Adam "Pacman" Jones had a 97-yard kickoff return that set up a fourth-quarter touchdown. Cornerback Antoine Cason returned Dalton's first interception 80 yards to set up a touchdown.
SET NEWTON LOOSE: Newton did it all. He completed 39 of 46 passes for two touchdowns and one interception. With the Panthers' backfield depleted by injuries, he took over that part of the offense, too, running 17 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. The available running backs — Whittaker and Darrin Reaves — combined for 17 carries and 40 yards.
"Some things came to fruition today," Newton said.
INJURIES: Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams (ankle) and Jonathan Stewart (knee) were inactive again. Guard Amini Ailatolu missed the second half with a calf injury. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict returned after missing two games while recovering from his second concussion, but had to leave the field briefly when he got up woozy after a play. He also had two personal fouls. Linebacker Rey Maualuga injured his left hamstring and had to be helped off the field.
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