The Bengals defeated the Rams by a score of 20-13 in St. Louis on Sunday. They, like most teams in the league, have a short week as they play on Saturday so they're able to spend Christmas at home. They host the 7-7 Cardinals on Saturday and need to win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive. Of course, a few other things need to happen, but that's out of their control.
Before we get too far into that, though, here are our MVPs and Goats from the Bengals' Week 15 win over the Rams.
Joe Goodberry's MVP:
"Geno Atkins: Atkins played equally well against the run as he did the pass. He had a sack and two tackles for a loss. I remember two plays where Atkins busted through the Rams line and chased down Steven Jackson from behind. With 8 total sacks this year, it would be a crime if Geno Atkins wasn't representing the Bengals in the Pro Bowl."
- Atkins had a huge game on Sunday. On one play in particular, Atkins shed his block and chased down Steven Jackson from behind and stopped him in the backfield. He has been amazing so far and Joe's right, if he's not in the playoffs, it would be a crime. He is doing his part to earn a big contract with the Bengals in 2014.
Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"Brandon Tate: His big punt return in the third quarter gave the team the kick start they needed to put the game away. He had another big punt return late in the game which led to another score to seal it. He set the team's franchise record for punt return yardage, passing his predecessor Quan Cosby. Along with multiple good returns on kickoffs, it was a good day for a guy who has been bashed by everyone."
- Tate has been bashed by everyone and sometimes it was right to bash him. However, his long third-quarter punt return supplied the spark that this team needed. It led to the Bengals' first touchdown on the day and after that they got on a roll. Tate makes some mistakes but his upside is huge too. It'll be interesting to see what the Bengals do with Tate in the offseason.
Dave Wellman's MVP:
"A.J. Green: Green or, as he is rapidly coming to be known, the 2011 Cincinnati Bengals offense.Seriously, Green is this team's offense, which is why the prospect of losing him to a shoulder injury sent waves of fear through the fan base. Though he didn't score against the Rams, he racked up 115 yards receiving and blew past 1,000 yards for the season, an amazing achievement for a rookie wideout. That he did it playing with a bum wing is even more impressive. Like many fans, I really want to see the Bengals spread the ball out more and involve other players, if only as a hedge against losing Green to injury, but at the same time it's hard to justify not putting his awesome talents to use on as many plays as possible."
- Green was the Bengals' offense on Sunday. He went over 100 yards while Benson was held under 100 and the next leading receiver after Green had less than 20 yards. This was definitely the A.J. Green show. He's the first 1,000-yard rookie receiver since 2006 and the first one in a Bengals uniform since 1981. He's a beast and I will challenge any man, woman or child (would prefer woman or child) to the field of honor that disagrees.
And to the Goats....
Joe Goodberry's Goat:
"Mike McGlynn: McGlynn isn't starting quality. I thought this was apparent when he took over for Clint Boling in week three. Again McGlynn looked over-matched and out-classed by average NFL players. He was consistently pushed around in the run game and pushed backwards in the passing game. If the Bengals are going to just take-their-lumps at RG, id rather watch a player who still has some upside like Boling."
- I completely agree with Joe. Bobbie Williams' injury hurts the Bengals quite a lot. McGlynn may be a veteran but his play is a massive step down from Williams' even though Bobbie is turning 36 before the next season begins. Boling is young and lacks experience but if the Bengals are just going to have anybody in there, it should be Boling. He can probably do exactly what McGlynn's doing and get experience at the same time.
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"Jermaine Gresham: He had more false starts (3) than catches (2). He continues to find consistency in the offense and should be the No.2 option for Dalton, but disappears for long periods. He needs to pick up his game down the stretch."
- With the inconsistent play at the wide receiver position from everybody not named A.J. Green, the Bengals really need Gresham to step up. He was the team's second leading receiver on Sunday but he still had less than 20 yards. That's how much Green carried the offense. That won't work every week so the Bengals really need Gresham to step up and produce more.
Dave Wellman's Goat:
"Cedric Benson: This may be a bit tough since Ced didn't have a bad day, but he put the ball on the ground three, count 'em, three times! That's completely unacceptable. The Bengals are incredibly lucky that none of those were lost. This part of the season would be the absolutely worst time to see Benson's 2010 ball-security issues re-emerge. Memo to RB coach Jim Anderson: you know what week it is. This is the week that Ced carries the ball to meetings and lunch and the john and everywhere else he goes."
- Benson's three fumbles could have cost the Bengals the game. All in all, Benson has been underwhelming in 2011. Yes, he's probably going to have another 1,000-yard season and yes his yards per carry average is higher this year than it was last year. He may even have more touchdowns (if he scores two more) than ever before. At the same time, he isn't able to break tackles, he's terrible on short-yardage situations, he can't catch out of the backfield and he gets in trouble sometimes and leaves the team high and dry. Those aren't good things. It will be interesting to see what the Bengals do at the running back position in 2012. I could see them re-signing Benson and I could see them going in a different direction.
Who's your MVP and Goat?