CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass against the Arizona Cardinals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Cardinals 23-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Another week, another wacky Bengals game. Though they dominated much of the game, they almost let it slip away at the end. This victory again embodied the 2011 Bengals "team win" mentality, as many players stepped up and contributed to the win. Once again it was hard to pick a winner for our "Unsung Hero of the Week Award". With the ups and downs of this week's game, there were a number of directions we could take with this week's award.
In case you've been avoiding this article over the other fifteen weeks, this award recognizes a player's contributions that might've gone unnoticed during the course of the game. We try to award a new player(s) every week and we don't use any of our MVP picks for that week.
And now, on to the nominees:
Though a quarterback isn't normally an unsung player on the team, Andy Dalton had a solid game. With two touchdown passes and no turnovers, Dalton did what was needed of a rookie quarterback in a must-win game. What tarnished his day was a dry spell at a critical point in the game to really put a stranglehold on things, as well as throwing for under 200 yards on the day. Still, it was another solid game for the youngster.
Another nominee that really stood out was cornerback Nate Clements. His veteran experience really showed up big in this huge game for a young team. He had a big interception early in the game and also made other good plays, including a tackle for loss on a screen pass. But, Clements' day also included a 100-yard receiving game from Larry Fitzgerald, as well as a poor fourth quarter by the secondary that almost let a 23-point lead escape.
Another nominee that we thought of was that of the front seven. This group's perfomance included a Rey Maualuga interception, as well as a number of sacks from players like Jonathan Fanene and others. Besides that, this group held running back Beanie Wells to just over fifty yards rushing, a 3.8 yard per carry average and no touchdowns. Like the secondary though, this team failed to take advantage of being in full pass rush mode when the team had a big lead. This is the group that we ultimately decided to give this week's "Unsung Hero of the Week Award".
Who gets your vote for this week's award? Write in below and let us know your vote.