The Bengals did exactly what they had to do Sunday to aid backup quarterback Brandon Allen's first Bengals start when kick returner Brandon Wilson gave him that unconventional score they craved on the franchise's longest play in history during a Paul Brown Stadium game that went into halftime tied at 10 with the Giants.
Wilson used blocks by his two rookie linebackers, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Logan Wilson, to rip it up the middle for 103 yards and just run away from everybody to nip the 102-yard interception returns held by Louis Breeden and Artrell Hawkins and the 102-yard kick return by Eric Bieniemy in 1997 against, of course, these Giants.
Wilson, the defending NFL kick return champion, had one last year and now joins Tremain Mack as the Bengals with two career kick return touchdowns.
_Thanks to Wilson's record run, quarterback Brandon Allen's Bengals debut was put on a slight hold. He hit four of his first five passes for 36 yards, but he was learning his receivers on the fly. He flung a bootleg deep for wide receiver A.J. Green one-on-one with safety Jabrill Peppers, but it was as little short and Peppers broke it up. That first series stalled when Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams beat left tackle Jonah Williams inside for a sack.
_On the second series, Peppers set up a third-and-13 when he came in unblocked and dumped wide receiver Alex Erickson for a four-yard loss and when Allen went deep over the middle to Green he overthrew on what appeared to be a lack of communication.
_The Giants' first touchdown came courtesy of a big play. Quarterback Daniel Jones had everyone bunched up, but saw tight end Evan Engram split out in a favorable matchup against safety Vonn Bell. Engram ran past Bell down the right sideline and Jones put it right there for a 53-yard play to the Bengals 4 and the Giants scored on Wayne Gallman Jr.'s fourth-down plunge.
_Bell flashed his signature next-play resilience. With the Giants barging into the red zone on Engram's 18-yard catch, Bell reached in and poked the ball out of Engram's hands. And he had enough presence of mind to take the Bengals' second fumble recovery of the season 28 yards the other way. Bell was all over the place with a game-high eight tackles a week after he had a career-high 14 tackles.
_That gave the Bengals the ball near midfield. They did get a 15-yard run from running back Giovani Bernard (had just 22 in the half on five carries as New York stacked up the run) on a delay sprung by a block from tight end Drew Sample, but Allen had some trouble hooking up with receivers downfield. After tight end Cethan Carter was called for offensive pass interference blocking on a screen, Allen did get back 10 yards underneath to wide receiver Tee Higgins to set up Randy Bullock's 44-yard field goal with 3:32 left in the half for a 10-7 lead.
Allen could throw for just 53 yards in the half as the Bengals were 2-for-5 on third down.
_For the seventh time this season the Bengals gave up points in the final two minutes of the half, but it was only a field goal when Graham Gano hit his 21st straight, a 49-yarder with 21 seconds left that tied it at 10.
_The Bengals couldn't get off the field on third down in the first half, when the Giants were 6-for-11, and that bit them on that last field goal drive. Daniel Jones (14 of 23 for 167 yards and no picks) onverted a third-and-four when he scrambled up the middle for five and he hit wide receiver Golden Tait at the sticks on third-and-five despite good coverage by slot cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Alexander had a busy and alert first half with three passes defensed and a tackle.
_The Bengals lost right guard Alex Redmond to a concussion, moving Quinton Spain from to right guard and bringing Michael Jordan off the bench to left.