The Bengals lost a one-point heart breaker on Sunday to the Houston Texans. They needed to win that game to make the road to the post season a little less bumpy, but the loss means they have to win out to have a shot at the playoffs as a 10-6 team. That means they have to beat the Rams on Sunday in St. Louis and then the Cardinals and Ravens in the last two weeks at home.
But before we get into the rest of the season, let's see who Joe Goodberry, Dave Wellman and Anthony Cosenza nominated for their MVPs and Goats of Sunday's game.
Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"Cedric Benson. He was running extremely well in the first half, helping to lead the Bengals to a 16-3 halftime lead. Though he disappeared in the second half, it seemed largely to do with Bobbie Williams leaving the game. Against the NFL's second-ranked defense, Benson came up huge."
- Cedric Benson probably had his best half of football so far this season in the first half of the Texans game. He was running hard and angry. As the team went to the locker room at half time, I figured that Benson was going to have one of his best games of the season against a very tough defense. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. It would nice to see Benson run that way throughout the rest of the season.
Dave Wellman's MVP:
"A.J. Green. In the biggest game of his career so far, up against arguably the best corner he has faced so far, Green recorded a solid 5 catches for 59 yards and drew a pass interference call for a big gain as well. Honorable mention to Andy Dalton, who also demonstrated that even a big game isn't too big for him."
- A.J. Green has proven that, up to this point, there isn't a cornerback that can completely shut him down. Of course he hasn't seen some of the top corners in the league (Darrelle Revis comes to mind), but based on the way he played against Johnathan Joseph on Sunday, there's no reason to think that he wouldn't make a couple of big plays against any corner in the league.
Joe Goodberry's MVP:
"Rey Maualuga: This was easily Rey's biggest impact on a game this year. He forced two fumbles and the second could've ended the game if a Bengal would've recovered. The first was a great stick inside the Bengals own five yard line. That play possibly took seven points off of the board. Besides those two plays, I thought Maualuga played with more decisiveness than he has since being moved to the middle."
- Maualuga had the game of his season on Sunday. He forced a fumble, and recovered it, when he hit Ben Tate in the backfield as the Texans were getting ready to score, and then he forced another fumble on Arian Foster in the backfield as Foster was catching a pass. Even though the Bengals recovered that fumble, they gave it right back up. Had Geno Atkins held on to that ball, Maualuga could be credited with sealing the Bengals' victory.
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"Marvin Lewis: You don't tout this game as "the biggest of your career" and not only lose it, but lose it in heartbreaking fashion. This was not the follow up to a divisional beat down that many of us expected. There were mental mistakes and lapses often, and the team squandered away their biggest halftime lead of the year. If I was a player on this team, I'd be emotionally crushed."
- Any time a team loses by one point after they went to the locker room with a 16-3 lead, coaches can be blamed. Of course, since Marvin Lewis is the head coach, he deserves to get the most blame. Now the Bengals have to win out to head to the playoffs and if they only win two of their last three games, their one-point loss to the Texans will be even bigger than it is now.
Dave Wellman's Goat:
"Mike Zimmer: Not just because, with the game on the line, his defense choked, but also because they were on their heels all game. The linebackers routinely bit on T.J. Yates' run fakes and no one could cover Owen Daniels, the latest TE in a long line to earn the nickname "Bengals Killer." That former Bengal Kevin Walter -- yet another guy the front office dubbed "not worth it" in free agency -- caught the winning TD pass with the Bengals dropping everyone into coverage only added insult to injury."
- Again, the coaches deserve a lot of the blame. Like Dave said, Owen Daniels killed the Bengals on Sunday and Zimmer was not able to adjust the game plan to stop him. I also wanted to smash my face into a wall when the defense allowed T.J. Yates to run for 20 yards on a third-and-15 play.
Joe Goodberry's Goat:
"Brandon Johnson: He's supposed to be the Bengals best nickel linebacker and their best cover LB, but on Sunday he wasn't the best at anything. On a 3rd & 15 with the Texans driving, Johnson came up the middle on a blitz and had a free shot at Yates. Johnson missed and Yates scrambled for 20 yards. That should've been a sack and should've put the Texans at 4th & 25.
On the last play of the game, Johnson bumped Owen Daniels and carried him too far outside and into the end zone. This left the zone in the middle in the field uncovered. Easy touchdown for Kevin Walter and the Texans."
- Brandon Johnson isn't the only defensive player that deserves the blame but the fact that Daniels destroyed the Bengals and the fact that he is partly to blame for the Texans' game-winning touchdown, puts him in the spotlight.