Wow. Just wow. There are few words that come to mind that can sum up the vast amount of awesomeness that was the Bengals 24-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday and wow is the only one that really comes to mind. I was nervous about this game, as I'm sure many of you were. After winning three straight games on the road, I was nervous that the team would let up, which is something even good teams do on the road, and allow the Titans, who are one of the better teams they've played so far this season, get the best of them.
That didn't happen though. Despite being down by 10 points at halftime, the Bengals came out swinging in the second half. Led by rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, they scored 17 unanswered points through the second half and won their fifth straight game in a row, which is something they haven't done since the 1988 Super Bowl season.
Here are the seven things that come to mind after their Week 9 win in Nashville.
|Point 1: If the Season Ended Today....|
There would be no question in my mind that Andy Dalton, not Cam Newton, would deserve to be named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. Yes, Newton has some awesome statistics. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns and he has rushed for seven more but the one stat that cannot be ignored, at least in my opinion, is the fact that Andy Dalton has led his team to six victories and has them ranked as the top team in the AFC and on top of their division. Newton has only won two games.
I'm thinking that the national media is beginning to come around on Dalton, but in my mind there shouldn't be much debate on the topic.
|Point 2: They Played Well Without Gresham, Maualuga and Jones and Now.....|
The Bengals Week 10 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be, to date, their most important game of the season. They've beaten the Browns, which was an important game as well, and they've beaten the Bills, Jaguars and Titans, all conference opponents, but the Steelers are the big fish that the Bengals need to catch.
In the last three weeks the Bengals have been without middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, for the last two they've been without tight end Jermaine Gresham and they were without Adam Jones for almost the entire season. Despite missing these three players, who are all a large part of the team, especially Gresham and Maualuga, the Bengals have performed well thanks to the play of backup players like Dan Skuta, Brandon Johnson, Donald Lee and Colin Cochart.
The Bengals will likely get Maualuga, Gresham and Jones back for the Pittsburgh game. Hopefully they get a big burst from these players in a week where they need it.
|Point 3: Benson Ran Hard in Tennessee|
The Titans two cornerbacks, Cortland Finnegan and Jason McCourty, are both good and coming into the game, I figured that they might give A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson some trouble. Because of that, I knew that it would be important for the Bengals to get the run game going.
In the end, Finnegan and McCourty didn't prove to be as big of problems as I thought they might be, but the Bengals still were able to run the ball better than usual anyway.
Benson, especially, ran very hard as he was coming off a one-game suspension. He carried the ball 20 times for 78 yards, which ended up being just a shade under four yards per carry. He looked better on Sunday than he had since the the game against Buffalo and it will be important for him and the Bengals to be able to run the ball this Sunday against the Steelers.
|Point 4: A.J. Green is a Beast|
When the Bengals need a first down, it seems that all Andy Dalton has to do is throw the ball in the general vicinity of his No. 1 wide receiver A.J. Green and Green will do the rest. He didn't score his sixth touchdown in Tennessee but he did lead the Bengals receivers with 83 yards on seven receptions. When the Bengals were in a bad situation, it was the Dalton-Green duo that helped bail them out.
|Point 5: Hopefully Dunlap's Injury is Nothing|
Dunlap may not be on pace to break his 9.5 sack record from last year but after he got his first sack in Seattle, he got two in Tennessee. Hopefully his leg injury is nothing big and he's back in the game against the Steelers. His sack numbers might not be great but that doesn't mean he's not in the quarterback's face on almost every passing play that he's in the game because he is.
Dunlap puts a ton of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and it would be really nice to see him put quite a bit of pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, who has the potential to tear the Bengals apart if he gets time to sit in the pocket.
|Point 6: Two Touchdowns in Two Games for Simpson|
After the news broke that Jerome Simpson was under investigation for the gazillion pounds of marijuana found in his house or in a box shipped to his house, Simpson's production declined a little. However, he seems to have bounced back. Since the Week 5 game in Jacksonville, Simpson has either had over 100 yards receiving or he's scored a touchdown.
This is a contract year for Simpson, as well as Andre Caldwell, and the team likely only has the room to re-sign one of them, if they sign one, and Simpson looks like he's trying to build his case.
|Extra Point: It's Steelers Week|
Regardless of what you think about the Steelers, the week in which Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati to play the Bengals is one of the most exciting weeks of the season, especially when the Bengals are playing like they are now.
Get ready because this one's going to be fun.