It was close early on, but the Bengals ended up pulling away and showing how much more overall talent that they have on their roster over Jacksonville's. As we mentioned earlier, it wasn't a perfect game that was played by the Bengals, but it may have been their best all-around team effort from start to finish.
Our weekly feature is seemingly becoming one of a two-man race between quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green. These two will definitely be nominated once again this week, but there were a couple of other Bengals who made significant impacts on the game. As I said earlier--"team effort".
On Monday morning, our own Josh Kirkendall wrote an awesome piece chronicling the growth and impact of linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The defense needed to start resembling the dominant units that have taken the field for the past half-decade under Mike Zimmer and it would have to begin last Sunday in Jacksonville. With four cornerbacks inactive for the game, it was up to the Bengals' front seven to make life miserable for the Jaguars offense. As was noted, he had eight tackles (two of them for a loss), a sack, another quarterback hit and a pass defensed. An all-around impressive game and we look forward to others in the future from the youngster.
Quietly, Bengals kicker Mike Nugent has been perfect this season. He had nine total points for the Bengals on Sunday and helped put away the game with a crucial late field goal. He's been perfect on every field goal attempt this season, aside from the fake field goal that the team didn't convert last week, and hasn't missed an extra point. It's easy to overlook someone like this, but after putting up Pro Bowl-like numbers last season, he hasn't disappointed after being designated with the franchise tag.
Then there's A.J. "the best player that the Bengals have drafted in 20 years" Green. He's had a monster two-week stretch where he could be a legitimate candidate for AFC Offensive Player of the Month. He hasn't posted less than five receptions in a game this year, is coming off back-to-back 100+ yard receiving games, and has a touchdown reception in three straight contests. He only had one reception in the first half, but it was a 42-yard beauty that helped to set up a touchdown. In the second half, Green took the game over and made a number of highlight plays.
It's tough to go against Green on this one, but we're going to give the nod to Dalton. He's strung together three consecutive wins with great statistics in each. In the last three games, Dalton has had nine touchdowns (eight passing, one rushing), 890 yards (297 yards per game average) against only three interceptions. What's more, he's getting everyone in the offense involved by distributing passes to the open man, a la Tom Brady. The interceptions were poor throws, but Dalton has been able to bounce back from all of them and lead the team to victory. Viva la Roja!
Who gets your vote for this week's Most Valuable Player Award?