NFL

Bengals tried everything to stop 'special dude' Kittle

By Sports Desk December 13, 2021

George Kittle made NFL history on Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers tight end proved impossible to stop in their dramatic overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The 49ers surrendered a 20-6 lead in the fourth quarter, the Bengals fighting back to force overtime before taking a 23-20 lead in the extra period.

However, the Niners responded and clinched a 26-23 victory on a walk-off 12-yard touchdown from wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who made a spectacular dive for the pylon as they improved to 7-6.

While it was Aiyuk who produced the defining play of the game, the common thread for the Niners' offensive success was Kittle.

Kittle made three catches on that final drive after making an incredible leaping grab on San Francisco's last drive of regulation, setting up a 47-yard game-winning field goal attempt that was missed by Robbie Gould.

He finished the game with 13 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown.

Having exploded for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the previous week's loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Kittle became the first tight end in NFL history to record successive games with at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown.

He also joined Zach Ertz (four games), Jason Witten (four) and Kellen Winslow Sr. (three) as only the fourth tight end with three games with 13 or more receptions.

And game-winner Aiyuk lavished praise on his team-mate in his post-game media conference.

"That's a different dude," Aiyuk said. "Huge third down plays, just plays all over the field… that's a special dude – real special dude."

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo added: "George showed out today, he really did. When you have a guy like that you can lean on, it's a nice feeling as a quarterback."

Kittle's historic day came despite the Bengals' defense exhausting all options to slow him down.

"We tried like hell to take him away," Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor told reporters. "We tried everything. He's one of the best tight ends out there. We've known that for a long time.

"He had similar production last week — he had almost 200 yards receiving — so it's not like he surprises people.

"You saw the catch he made that almost won them the game in regulation and put them in field goal range. When a guy is that explosive, and has that big of hands with that kind of catch radius, he makes a lot of plays. And I promise we tried like hell to take him away, and he just finds a way to make those plays."

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