We're officially a quarter of the way through the 2012 NFL season and the Cincinnati Bengals are sitting pretty at 3-1. When looking at the schedule, one would have made the prediction that that would have been the record at this point. In essence, the Bengals are winning the games that they're supposed to win.
This Sunday was was of those must-win games for the orange and black. It was mainly a must-win because it was a road game against a mediocre Jaguars and if they are going to continue to make hay in the AFC, they needed this one. They didn't play a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but Cincinnati dominated the game for the most part. In said domination, there were a lot of players who helped the cause.
The defense rose to the occasion Sunday, as they stifled the Jaguars passing and rushing games, so we started to look on that side of the ball. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins had two more sacks on the day, bringing his total to five through the first four games. He was a dominant player last season and it appears that he's making a push for the Pro Bowl once again.
Outside linebacker Manny Lawson also had a pretty solid day in Jacksonville. He had four tackles and a sack and really showed up for the first time this season. Furthering the point, there weren't any big plays by tight ends (or any Jaguars player, really) and that's one of the tasks that Lawson was charged with.
Moving to the defensive backfield, all players in the secondary stepped up. With injuries to four cornerbacks, Adam Jones and Terence Newman filled in more than adequately. However, if one were to single a player out of the secondary, it would have to be Chris Crocker. The maligned safety practiced with the team on Thursday, steps into the lineup and gave the Bengals their first interception of the year. Good for him. Overall, the group held Blaine Gabbert to 186 yards passing.
Ultimately, we decided to give this week's "Unsung Hero of the Week" award to Cedric Peerman. We knew he was a solid special teams player, but he jumped to spectacular on Sunday. A single 48-yard run on a fake punt completely changed the momentum and gave the Bengals the juice needed to take control of the game. In an afternoon that could have been called "The A.J. Green Highlight Show", it was Peerman's play who made the victory possible.