The Bengals came into Week 10 of the 2011 season with a 6-2 record and had far exceeded any of our expectations to the point that we began to talk about watching the Bengals make a playoff run that would start with them beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Unfortunately that didn't happen. However, it wasn't like the Bengals were blown out. They had their chances but in the end the ball didn't bounce their way. They have another chance to make a playoff push that starts with beating the Ravens in Baltimore this weekend but before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's take a look back at the Bengals loss to the Steelers and the our picks for the team's MVP and Goat in the game.
Joe Goodberry's MVP:
"A.J. Green: Until Green skyrocketed above two Steelers defenders, I honestly felt like the Bengals were completely outclassed by Pittsburgh. After Green made the catch that forced my jaw hit the food for the fifth time this season, a new reason for hope came over me and looked to re-energize the team. The Bengals got back into the game and looked like they belonged on the same field."
- Green had only one catch but that catch was for a touchdown over one of the best safeties in the NFL, Troy Polomalu. After that touchdown, the Bengals got on a roll. We also saw how big of a role A.J. Green plays when he's in the game because when he came out, the Bengals had a hard time moving the ball down the field.
Naji Bsisu's MVP:
"Andy Dalton: Yes he threw two picks but he showed tremendous poise as a rookie quarterback in his first game against the Steelers 3-4 defense. He lead the Bengals back after they fell behind 14-0 and had several chances to win the game in the 4th quarter. He will learn from his mistakes and get better from this game."
- After watching Dalton take on Pittsburgh, I knew for a certainty that our young quarterback is going to be a solid player for the Bengals. He stood in the pocket after being down 14-0 and nearly led the Bengals back against one of the toughest defenses in the league.
Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"Manny Lawson. This guy was everywhere on Sunday. He constantly pressured Big Ben and was flying around. For a guy that's been flying under the radar a little but this season, he made a lot of plays and pumped up the defense."
- For the majority of the season, Manny Lawson's performance as a starting linebacker has been overshadowed by Thomas Howard and Rey Maualuga. That's not to say that Lawson has been bad, he just hasn't been talked about much. However, he played outstanding against the Steelers and he deserves a lot of recognition for it. Hopefully he plays the same way against the Ravens.
Joe Goodberry's Goat:
"Injured players: What if? It's a phase fans use too often in sports. Usually it's an effort to defend your team and provides an opportunity to dream about how the game could've been different. Without Adam Jones, Carlos Dunlap, Leon Hall and AJ Green, the Bengals came within seven points from beating the defending AFC champions. Three of those player could arguably be three of the most impacting players on the team. Missing them had a huge effect on the outcome of the game."
- It's true that missing A.J. Green through the majority of the second half hurt the offense and Adam Jones could have been used when Leon Hall left the game. The Bengals sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times without Carlos Dunlap but could you imagine what they could have done with him in the game? Hopefully some of the injured Bengals players make their way on the field (and stay on the field) in Baltimore.
Naji Bsisu's Goat:
"Cedric Benson: This team needs Benson to step it up and provide a spark in the running game. Right now he's only getting the yards blocked for him and nothing more. We need him to make some plays. If not, he could start loosing more and more carries to Bernard Scott. I personally thought the offense looked better when Scott was in the game, and he at least has the potential to score every time he touches the ball, unlike Benson."
- Benson has been one of the more disappointing players so far this season. He has only managed to average over four yards per carry twice this season and he's only managed to score two touchdowns. Many believe that the Bengals need to find a new running back before the 2012 season and I agree.
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"Kelly Jennings. I feel bad for the guy as we seem to pile on him here at CJ, but for a player that the team traded for, he hasn't pulled his weight yet. He's not playing like a former first round pick and was beat frequently after Leon Hall left the game. I still think that he's rusty from injury and no longer being a starter, but he was getting roasted on Sunday. Let's hope his best play is in front of him."
- Jennings has been underwhelming so far this season. Now that Leon Hall is out for the season and because Adam Jones isn't fully healthy, Jennings will have to step up his game big time. Hopefully he's up for the task this weekend in Baltimore.