CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a catch during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
There's so many choices we could have had awarding this week's Game Ball following Cincinnati's 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns. Cedric Benson posted 106 yards rushing and a touchdown. Quarterback Andy Dalton recorded a passer rating of 105.6, completing 21 of 31 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown. Rey Maualuga had ten tackles, including one for loss. Thomas Howard had nine with a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. Reggie Nelson intercepted the football, combined with two passes defensed.
Geno Atkins was a man amongst boys. Though he only had three total tackles, the team's defensive tackle posted a quarterback sack, two quarterback hits, a tackle for loss, quarterback pressures even when he wasn't on the field and tied for the team lead in passes defensed. A strong candidate, he is. Jermaine Gresham posted a team-high five receptions for 68 yards receiving, a touchdown and a critical 16-yard reception on third down that eventually lead to a Mike Nugent field goal. Gresham, like Atkins, was an extremely intoxicating nomination.
There's a reason we're going with A.J. Green this week. It's actually simple, the method to our madness. Not to mention that Green's three receptions ranked in Cincinnati's top-four plays on Sunday, it's how important those receptions were to the development of Sunday's win. Green hauled in a 24-yard reception in the first quarter, turning around on an underthrown pass and picking up 24 yards. On the next play Cedric Benson scored on a 16-yard touchdown. Late in the third quarter, Green hauled in a 35-yard reception over Joe Haden. On the next play Jermaine Gresham scored a touchdown on a 22-yard reception to bring Cincinnati to within three. And finally the 51-yard reception late in the fourth quarter that setup Mike Nugent's game-winning chip-shot.
Quantity is always good. Except this time its about quality.
Surprisingly this is the first Game Ball of the Week we've award to Green this season.
Week Two Against Denver: Quarterback Andy Dalton
Week Three Against San Francisco: Defensive End Jonathan Fanene
Week Four Against Buffalo: Place Kicker Mike Nugent
Week Five Against Jacksonville: Tight End Jermaine Gresham
Week Six Against Indianapolis: Quarterback Andy Dalton
Week Seven (Bye Week): Bengals Owner Mike Brown
Week Eight Against Seattle: Defensive End Carlos Dunlap
Week Nine Against Tennessee: Defensive End Carlos Dunlap
Week Ten Against Pittsburgh: Linebacker Manny Lawson
Week Eleven Against Baltimore: Wide Receiver Jerome Simpson
Week Twelve Against Cleveland: Wide Receiver A.J. Green