CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 2: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the football during the game against the Buffalo Bills on October 2, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Bills 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
I couldn't write The Monday Touchdown last night, it was too close to the Bengals awesome come-back victory over the Buffalo Bills for me to do anything other than pound my fists down through my keyboard and scream in pure frenzy of awesome joy. I was just too excited to write without breaking something or filling an article with 1,000 synonyms for awesome (awe-inspiring, astonishing, breathtaking, wonderful, wondrous, striking, mind-blowing... I could do this all day) instead of actually saying anything.
So, now that I've calmed down, here are the seven things that stuck out to me about the Bengals 23-20 win over the Bills.
|Point One: Dalton's Poise Impresses Me The Most|
Yes, Andy Dalton's touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham, his long passes to A.J. Green and his touchdown run were all impressive but what impressed me the most was his ability to come back from throwing two first-half interceptions that led to 14 points for the Bills and engineer a come-from-behind win. That's not something that rookie quarterbacks are usually capable of doing. He may not have the athleticism of Cam Newton, the arm strength of Ryan Mallett or have whatever Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker had that led them to get drafted before Dalton, but what Dalton does have is the maturity and the drive to win.
Dalton wins games. He did it at TCU and I think he can do it in Cincinnati. I'm excited about his future.
|Point Two: A.J. Green Showed Us He Deserved the No. 4 Overall Pick|
Calvin Johnson has earned the nickname Megatron for catching everything thrown to him, being a huge and terrifying and by killing living robots in the offseason.
Before the draft, A.J. Green was said to be the best wide receiver to enter the draft since Johnson. The Bengals took him at No. 4, which made some people happy and some not so happy. The happy ones proved that they were right to be happy and the not-so happy ones are probably pretty happy now.
This was one of a few circus catches that Green pulled off on Sunday and I'm sure that there are a lot more on the way.
|Point Three: Rey's Breaking Out Game?|
Even though Rey Maualuga has only played at the middle linebacker position three times, through the first three games of the season, Maualuga was one of the bigger disappointments of the season. He was just mediocre in the Browns and 49ers game and was terrible in the loss to the Broncos.
However, in the win over the Buffalo Bills, who had the leagues' third-best offense, Maualuga played great leading the team with 11 tackles. He was largely responsible for shutting down Fred Jackson and the Bills running game and now he's the defensive leader of the best defense in the NFL.
Is this the beginning of a great career for Maualuga?
|Point Four: Bengals Defensive Line is Badass|
Of course the best defense in the NFL has to have a rocking defensive line. The rotation of Pat Sim, Domata Peko and Geno Atkins with Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers and Carlos Dunlap at the defensive end positions and with Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene peppered in has proven to be very effective.
And by effective, I mean that offenses need to be worried.
The defensive line combined with the impressive play of Maualuga, Thomas Howard and Manny Lawson is not only affective at stopping impressive running backs (Frank Gore, Peyton Hillis and Fred Jackson), but they've helped keep the passing game at bay as well by putting constant pressure on the opposing quarterback.
|Point Five: I Hope Benson is Available in Week Five|
We haven't heard whether or not Cedric Benson will win his appeal of his three-game suspension or not but there's a chance that he may be unavailable to the Bengals when they take the field in Jacksonville this weekend. I hope that's not the case. Even though Bernard Scott deserves more carries and Brian Leonard looked impressive at the end of the game against the Bills, I'm nervous about the team without Benson. I seriously doubt that there's a running back on the Bengals roster that can carry the ball up the middle 30 times a game other that Benson and that's what Dalton needs from his running back.
When Benson gets on a roll he looks great and against the 12th-ranked passing defense of the Jaguars, I would like to see as much Benson as possible to take some pressure of Dalton's shoulders.
|Point Six: Bobbie Williams' Will Provide Boost to the Offense|
Bobbie Williams is back from his four-game suspension and will likely take his starting job back as the team's right guard between center Kyle Cook and tackle Andre Smith. This is good news for the Bengals, especially when it comes to the running game.
Both Clint Boling and Mike McGlynn have held their own in Williams' absence but Williams will provide a boost in the running game. Whether or not he'll provide a boost in the passing game has yet to be seen but Benson should be happy about being able to run to the right and left side in the future. So should fantasy football players who have Benson on their teams.
|Extra Point: Bengals 4-2 at the Bye Week?|
The Bengals have two weeks before heading into the bye week and in those two weeks they play two AFC South teams, the 1-3 Jacksonville Jaguars on the road and the 0-4 Indianapolis Colts at home. Both of those games will be winnable for the Bengals, especially if the defense continues to play the way they have.
If they can shut down Maurice Jones-Drew, the defense can take advantage of Blaine Gabbert against the Jaguars and if they face a similar situation in Curtis Painter (or Kerry Collins) when they play the Colts.
If the Bengals offense can play mistake free and the defense lives up to their No. 1 ranking, they can easily go into the bye week at 4-2. However, we can't forget the Broncos or 49ers games, the Bengals could just as easily be 2-4 in two weeks. Let's hope for the first one.