CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 01: Jerome Simpson #89 of the Cincinnati Bengals avoids the tackle of Cary Williams #29 of the Baltimore Ravens during their game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Ravens defeated the Bengals 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
The Bengals are going to the playoffs. They are set to face the Houston Texans on the road on Saturday. If you told me this was going to happen, I would have taken you to a hospital and had you committed. So, the good news is that the Bengals' season isn't over.
The bad news is they lost to the Ravens in Week 17, but that's not a very big deal when you consider that they're going to the playoffs. Did you know they're going to the playoffs?
Before I tell you that the Bengals are going to the playoffs, here are our MVPs and Goats of the Bengals Week 17 loss.
Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"Jerome Simpson: He had a couple of big catches that converted first downs. They weren't big bombs or catches that resulted in flips, but they were the tough catches needed of a No.2 receiver in a hard-fought divisional game."
- Simpson didn't have a game like he did against the Ravens the other two times he faced them but Anthony's right, he did have some big catches when the Bengals needed him to. The Ravens were able to really limit A.J. Green and luckily Simpson was there to step up.
Dave Wellman's MVP:
"The fans: The sea of empty seats was gone Sunday, replaced by the full-throated roar of a sold-out home crowd. They can be credited with causing at least one false start by the Baltimore Ravens, and while they didn't get the victory they came to see, they left the stadium knowing that their team would be playing next weekend thanks to losses by Denver and Oakland. Props to the front office for offering a deal to fill up Paul Brown Stadium, and props to the fans from bringing back The Jungle."
- For the first time in the 2011 season, Paul Brown Stadium was rocking and it wasn't rocking because it was filled with Steelers fans. The Bengals two-for-one deal was exactly what they needed to cap off an exciting season. With the lowered prices in 2012 and a trip to the playoffs in 2011, I'd be shocked to see them not sell out in 2012.
Jason Garrison's MVP:
"Jermaine Gresham: Gresham led the Bengals in receiving and was used as a downfield passing threat through much of the game. There's no reason that he can't be a Rob Gronkowski for the Bengals as he's just as athletic and has great hands. Unfortunately his fumble ended a possible game-winning drive but you can't let that erase his great game. Besides the Bengals are still going to the playoffs. I'm not sure if you knew that or not.
And the Goats......
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"The Bengals coaches: Marvin had the team unprepared for the big stage. Gruden didn't have his offense clicking until late in the third quarter. And Zimmer's defense seemed preoccupied with defending the pass (on a windy day) instead of containing Ray Rice. The Bengals were overmatched most of the day and it was because of the coaches."
- You would think that the coaches would have the team prepared for the biggest game in the last decade, but they came out flat and got down in a hole early, as per usual with this team. They may be able to go to the playoffs, but the Bengals won't be able to be serious contenders until they stop getting down early to good teams.
Dave Wellman's Goat:
"Rey Maualuga: Gotta stop Ray Rice, man. The Bengals run defense, stout all season, collapsed Sunday with two long, backbreaking TD runs by Rice. Rey got beat on both. He's going to have to step it up next week. Honorable mention: the refs."
- The Bengals have been terrible against Ray Rice this season. He ran for over 100 yards in each game, including 191 yards on Sunday. On both of his long touchdown runs, Maualuga was completely taken out of the play. With Arian Foster and Ben Tate looming in Houston, his performance against the Ravens wasn't a good sign.
Jason Garrison's Goat:
"Cedric Benson: He didn't fumble the ball, which is good, but he still didn't do much of anything. He had a few decent carries in the second half but it's painfully obvious that he is completely incapable of doing what Ray Rice can do. He doesn't have any big play potential at all. One of our commenters (I completely forget who it was) said it best: It's sad when you think that a six-yard run is breaking a big one.
Unfortunately, that's what Benson has set us up for. Scott has a bigger upside and I would like to see an even split of carries in the playoffs."