CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 16: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the ball against Jacob Lacey #27 of the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Colts 27-17. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
There was a point during Cincinnati's 34-12 win over the Seattle Seahawks in which the Bengals were holding onto a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Brown paper bags were filled with strong pizza-breath and a hint of = succulent adult beverages. It was around this time that I thought to myself during the game, "this is where we're going to miss Cedric Benson."
It's not that Bernard Scott played poorly. He did exactly as we expected, ripping off four runs that totaled 50 yards rushing. He also spent his other 18 carries that afternoon averaging 1.4 yards/rush with half of those runs (9) picking up only a yard or less (four runs were negative plays).
Explosive as he may be, Scott didn't likely convert non-believers or change suspicions regarding the question if he can become an every-down back. And he won't have to be this weekend. After serving a one-game suspension, a week after the team's bye week, Cedric Benson is rested and ready:
"Just time to rest the body and mind, just put things in perspective," Benson said before practice. "It's amazing what the time away does. You put so much into this, and when things don't go well, it tries to mess with you.
"Getting away from it helps put it in perspective. I hate missing the game, but two weeks is a blessing in disguise. Have to have something positive to say about it."
Make no mistake about it. Cedric Benson isn't the type of running back that will win games for you by scoring 50-60 yard touchdowns (though he has done it before). His yard/rush average this season is his second-highest during his Cincinnati Bengals career, it's also below four yards (3.9). With no touchdowns in the first half, Benson hasn't been an effective back this year until late in the game when the Bengals are holding onto a lead and need to milk the clock.
|Benson's production broken down by halves|
During games with the Bengals winning, Benson is averaging 4.3 yard/rush. Benson's fourth quarter is his most productive this season, averaging 4.9 yards compared to a depressing 3.1 yard/rush average in the first quarter.
Is Benson going to single-handedly win you games? No. But he's still fully capable of finishing them when defenses tire and the clock expires.
Yet if there was a game that Benson could have a monster game, at least 100 yards rushing for the sake of our discussions, it might be this weekend against the Tennessee Titans. Rested after a two-week vacation, Benson will face the league's 27th rushing defense, allowing 129.3 yards rushing per game and a 4.3-yard rushing average.
Tennessee's defense has allowed 150 yards rushing during their last three games (Pittsburgh, Houston, Indianapolis) for a combined 5.5 yard/rush average.
Like we said. If there's a game for Benson to really set the rest of the season, not one comes up greater than this.