CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the ball during a play against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
The Bengals won a big game against the Browns on Sunday to stay in the playoff hunt. They have swept the Browns and are heading into Week 13 with a 7-4 record as they prepare for the Steelers on the road. But before we get into how big of a game Sunday's is, let's look back at the seven things that stood out to me from the Bengals 23-20 win over the Browns.
|Point 1: Andy Dalton has ice water in his veins|
Rookie quarterbacks don't bring their team back to win on fourth-quarter drives very often and they certainly don't do it four times. Andy Dalton is a rookie but he doesn't play like it. I didn't know what to expect from Dalton when he was selected by the Bengals in the second round of the draft but I'm happy to know that we have a true leader and a quarterback that has the ability to make the plays when it matters.
|Point 2: A.J. Green is.....|
I don't know what to call A.J. Green. His grab at the end of the game belongs in the top plays of the week and Green almost single handedly changed the game. His leaping grab over Joe Haden and run down to the two-yard line sealed the deal and set up Mike Nugent's game-winning field goal.
|Point 3: Who is the team's best pass rusher?|
Don't get me wrong, Carlos Dunlap is very good, when he's healthy. I have the feeling that he wasn't really ever healthy heading into the Baltimore game and that's why he missed the Browns game. Dunlap has three sacks on the season and he's rated by ProFootballFocus.com as the league's best 4-3 defensive end. However, Geno Atkins leads all defensive tackles in the NFL with 6.5 sacks and he had some big plays against the Browns, including a hit on Colt McCoy that caused him to throw an interception.
Is Atkins the 2011 Bengals' best pass rusher? Either way, I feel sorry for quarterbacks when Atkins is in and Dunlap is healthy.
|Point 4: Jerome Simpson's flop was awesome|
Jerome Simpson did one of his famous disappearing acts against the Browns but he did showcase his acting talent. He still hasn't done anything consistently well enough to convince me that he deserves to be re-signed to a big contract, but that flop was pretty cool. It aslo helped the Bengals.
|Point 5: Jermaine Gresham is by far the second best receiver on the team|
Jerome Simpson is good when he wants to be good and Andre Caldwell gets lucky sometimes, but, like A.J. Green, tight end Jermaine Gresham is the real deal. His touchdown catch showed how talented he can be and how big of a deep threat he can be. He has the ability to be the Bengals long term tight end and break franchise records.
Hopefully the Bengals use him to stretch the field more often in the future.
|Point 6: Please no more Cardiac Cats|
I appreciate a close game just as much as the next sports fan but holy crap. I can't handle many more last minute wins, fourth-quarter comebacks or last minute drives. Please, for the love of everything holy, please score first and score often and keep a lead through the entire game. The Bengals are literally shaving weeks off my life right now.
|Extra Point: That was a HUGE win|
If the Bengals had lost that game, they would need to at least win four of their next five games to keep their playoff hopes alive. The win means that it's possible to still get swept by Pittsburgh and Baltimore (not saying I want that to happen) and still make the playoffs. If they had lost, they would have probably needed to beat either the Steelers or the Ravens and that's much easier said than done.