How do you top a come-from-behind win over the Buffalo Bills, a team that you haven't beat the last 10 times you played and who has one of the top offenses in the league? You win your next game on the road, that's how.
The Bengals went down to Jacksonville and beat the Jaguars on their own turf on Sunday by a score of 30-20. The defense had two game-changing goal line stands and the offense was able to move the ball down the field when they needed to.
Here are the seven things I took away from Sunday's win over the Jaguars.
|Point 1: The Bengals Defense Deserved the No. 1 Ranking|
In two different instances, the Bengals stopped the Jaguars from scoring touchdowns when the Jaguars had the ball within five yards of the end zone on first down. Both times the Bengals defense stiffened up and held the Jaguars to three points instead of seven.
They also were able to hold Maurice Jones-Drew, the league's second leading rusher coming into the game, to just 85 yards and they even scored a defensive touchdown in the last seconds of the game thanks to a fumble recovery and return from defensive lineman Geno Atkins. If you take away the long run in which Jones-Drew was clearly down and credit the Bengals with a fumble recovery when Blaine Gabbert dopped the ball on the one-yard line, the defense could have looked even better.
|Point Two: The Strength of the Defense is in the Depth of the Line|
If you could point out the biggest strength of the Bengals team in 2011 it would obviously be their defense. But which part of their defense? I would say their defensive line.
The Bengals have possibly the deepest defensive line in the league. Domata Peko, Geno Atkins, Pat Sims, Jonathan Fanene, Frostee Rucker, Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers and Carlos Dunlap are all capable of starting on the defensive line in their respective positions. When you have those eight guys rotating in and staying fresh, the entire defensive line looks like their playing in the second quarter when it's actually the fourth quarter. I challenge any offensive line in the NFL to keep up with them.
|Point Three: A.J. Green is an All-In-One Receiver|
A.J. Green is all of those things.
He has the speed to beat corners deep, he has the hands and the physicality to catch tough passes in traffic and the talent to give even the best cornerbacks a run for their money. He can do it all and was totally worth the No. 4 overall pick.
|Point Four: Tate Shows Promise but Makes Bad Decisions|
Brandon Tate has the potential to make big plays in the return game but at the same time he makes some questionable decisions. When he should let the ball bounce into the end zone he makes a fare catch on the five-yard line and when he should catch the ball he allows it to go out of bounds at the two-yard line. It's pretty frustrating to watch.
I would make a bigger deal of it if Tate didn't average 14.3 yards on punt returns and 25.3 yards on kick returns on a few big plays.
Overall Tate played well but I'd say he's only one or two turnovers away from losing a lot of support.
|Point Five: Bengals Defense Needs to Create More Turnovers|
The Bengals defense has only intercepted one pass, which came in week one when defensive end Michael Johnson picked off Colt McCoy. That means there are 30 defensive players in the NFL that have more individual interceptions than the Bengals defense does, including Patriots 352-pound defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (two interceptions). With as much pressure that the defensive line puts on opposing quarterbacks, forcing them to throw the ball early and often inaccurately, you'd think that the Bengals secondary could take advantage.
So far it hasn't been a huge deal but they will need to start winning the turnover battle if they're going to continue to win games, especially when they get into the AFC North part of their schedule.
|Point Six: Keith Rivers Will be Lucky to Play a Snap This Season|
Thomas Howard has been great so far this season and Keith Rivers, who has been underwhelming throughout the majority of his career in Cincinnati, will be lucky to step foot on the field when he is able to return to the team. There's a decent chance that he'll go on Injured Reserve for the season and if Howard continues to play like he has been through the past five weeks for the whole season, who knows what could happen this offseason.
Right now, though, I'd rather have Howard in the game than a healthy and rested Rivers.
|Extra Point: Cedric Benson is....|
Benson carried the ball 24 times for only 53 yards, a 2.2 yards per carry average, on Sunday against the Jaguars. While it all can't be blamed on him, the offensive line didn't open up huge holes for him, Benson doesn't seem to have the ability to make plays on his own.
His longest run of the day was for only eight yards and for the most part, when he made initial contact with a defensive player, he went down.
I like Benson, I really do. The fact that he carried the ball 24 times is fairly impressive all by itself. Bernard Scott can't do that. However, Benson's inability to make plays will be a problem for the Bengals in the future. I think the Bengals should move in another direction before the 2012 season, whether they draft somebody or pick somebody up in free agency.