There are some that are considering a Peyton Manning nomination for Most Valuable Player of the Year this season for one simple solitary reason. Yet to take a snap this year following a handful of procedures on his neck, the Indianapolis Colts are winless through 13 games this season promoting just how important Manning is to his team. Many theorize that if Manning played this year, the Colts would be in contention for the AFC South. Whether or not it’s true is completely irrelevant due to the nature of the speculation involved. That being said we’re using the same theory handing out our Game Ball of the Week.
During the game’s first 23 minutes and 39 seconds against Houston on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals sported a 6-3 lead during an offensive possession – a gift from Rey Maualuga forcing a Ben Tate fumble – that would eventually lead to a Jerome Simpson 17-yard touchdown.
Cincinnati’s rushing offense was killing the Texans with Cedric Benson registering 85 yards rushing on 10 carries (an 8.5 yard/rush average) through the game’s first 23 minutes and 39 seconds (we said that again for a reason). On Benson’s tenth carry of the game, Bengals starting right guard Bobbie Williams suffered a broken ankle after being rolled up from behind. The tough bastard walked off the field, either motioning to the crowd or firing up his teammates, with a broken right ankle… unassisted.
After that moment Cedric Benson’s day was largely over, carrying the football another 11 times for six yards rushing (a .5 yard/rush average) and -7 yards coming off the right side in the second half alone.
Granted Williams was called for a false start on the one-yard line from Houston’s one-yard line that eventually led to a field goal in the first quarter. Granted if the Bengals score that touchdown, Cincinnati’s afternoon shifts from a one-point loss to a six-point advantage. At the same time Cincinnati’s rushing offense, when they needed to milk the clock and acquire first downs in the second half, was impotent, rushing 14 times for nine yards.
Williams is the second offensive lineman this year to receive the award.
We’re also handing out the Game Ball of the Week this Week to starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. With 10:56 remaining in the second quarter, the Texans lined up on Cincinnati’s one-yard line readying their 12th snap on a drive that began at their own 10-yard line. Maualuga lined up five yards off the line of scrimmage, over the right guard. As soon as the football was snapped, Maualuga both diagnosed and reacted to the play, targeting the point of attack between the right guard and right tackle. Laurence Vickers, the Texans fullback and lead blocker on the play, unwisely targets Kelly Jennings giving Maualuga a free lane. He didn’t disappoint.
Two yards short of the line of scrimmage, Maualuga stones running back Ben Tate and during the process of making the tackle, claws the football out of Tate’s possession and, what the hell, recovers his own forced fumble.
Not only did Maualuga prevent Houston from taking a 10-6 lead, he gave the football back to Cincinnati’s offense, who went 15 plays over the length of the field to score their own touchdown and take a 13-3 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. That’s what we call a 14-point swing.
Maualuga finished with two forced fumbles (one recovered) and six tackles (one for loss).
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
Week Thirteen Against Pittsburgh: Offensive Tackle Anthony Collins
Week Fourteen Against Houston: Guard Bobbie Williams And Linebacker Rey Maualuga