Sunday's loss against the Dolphins had to be a tough one to swallow for Bengals fans. At first blush, this was a game that was tacked onto the win column for Cincinnati and they let it get away. As the great Chris Berman always says: "THAT'S why they play the game".
It's no secret that the offense sputtered all Sunday afternoon. The No.9 ranked Dolphins defense stifled Jay Gruden's unit, as they suffocated the running game and contained Andy Dalton. Most of the unsung efforts for the Bengals were on the defensive side, though there were some bright spots on offense. These nominees were overlooked in the loss and therefore are our candidates for the weekly "Unsung Hero of the Week Award".
First, we had to look at the bookends of the offensive line. Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth had a big task in trying to handle the Dolphins offensive line and they did a pretty good job for the most part. Aside from a sack from Cameron Wake and false start penalty by Smith, the two held their own. The Dolphins had two other sacks, but those were more of a product of great coverage in the secondary than poor protection. The big mar on their day was the inability to get push in the running game, so we don't think that we could give them the award in good conscience.
Aside from the tackles, there weren't many other unsung heroes on offense. So we turn to the defense. Once again, Geno Atkins shined in his role as the team's defensive tackle. He had yet another sack, his sixth in five games, and had four total tackles. He was part of a unit that helped quell the Dolphins running attack and has been one of the major reasons that the team has made an impressive turnaround on defense the past two weeks.
Ultimately, we decided to give this week's award to a guy who has been the dog through the team's first four games. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga had a solid game and didn't have many, if any, noticeable mistakes. He led the team with 11 total tackles and helped hold the Dolphins rushers to 35 rushes for 68 yards, which is a 1.94 yards per carry average. He was making some solid tackles, including one big hit where he took himself out of the game as he feared a concussion.
Who gets your vote for the "Unsung Hero of the Week Award"?