Bengals picks William Jackson III, Tyler Boyd were part of historic game

Tyler Boyd caught nine passes for 112 yards in the Armed Forces Bowl on Jan. 2, 2015, but his Pitt Panthers lost to Houston, 35-34. AP Photo/Sharon Ellman

CINCINNATI -- Tyler Boyd's initial memories of that historic afternoon were the field conditions.

"I just remember a terrible environment," the new Cincinnati Bengals receiver said. "Rainy, and [you're] just not able to get the full competitiveness off of each other because of that atmosphere."

Soggy at the start, soggy at the finish, the Armed Forces Bowl played Jan. 2, 2015 in in Fort Worth, Texas, was a rain-soaked mess that Boyd's Pitt Panthers had actually handled well for more than 56 minutes.

Then came the final 3:41. Pitt's defense didn't handle anything well in that stretch, allowing three straight touchdowns en route to the Houston Cougars' improbable 35-34 win. The 25-point fourth-quarter comeback went down as the largest in an FBS game during the 2014 season, and it also went down as the largest ever in a bowl game that didn't go to overtime.

Boyd wasn't the only recent Bengals addition who was on the field that day. Cornerback William Jackson III was, too. For parts of the game, the Cougars cornerback was lined up opposite Boyd. The Bengals picked Jackson 24th overall in last Thursday's opening round of the NFL draft, and then they selected Boyd one round later at 55th overall.

Although his team came out on top, this wasn't one of Jackson's better games. He was only credited with one tackle. A year later, in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, he went off on Florida State, enjoying one of the best games of his college career. Jackson finished that one with a career-high 10 tackles, two interceptions and two pass breakups.

Though Boyd's team came out on the losing end of the 2014 season's Armed Forces Bowl, he still caught a game-high nine passes for 112 yards. He didn't score, and was a dropped third-down pass away from potentially putting the Panthers in range for a game-winning field goal in the game's closing seconds.

Boyd remembered the afternoon's soggy conditions. He remembered coming away impressed with Jackson, too, despite the defender's lacking statistics.

"He was probably one of the top guys that I've faced," Boyd said. "I can tell he has a lot of dog in him. I've seen him play against other teams, and I know that he's in the same caliber as me. I know he's all about competing and trying to be the best."

The first of the one-on-one competitions between Jackson and Boyd can begin this weekend -- albeit not in pads -- when the Bengals go through their rookie camp. All newly drafted players, first-year undrafted signees and a handful of tryout players will take part in a series of practices on Paul Brown Stadium's practice fields Friday through Sunday.