For the third straight week, the Bengals absolutely dominated their opponent and continued their impressive win streak. With the 34-10 beatdown of the Oakland Raiders and former quarterback Carson Palmer, a number of Bengals made big plays to contribute to the win. When you win a game by 24 points, it's fair to assume that both the offense and defense helped the cause and such was the case last Sunday. Let's go over some of our nominees.
First, we start on the defensive side of the ball. There were two players that stood out upon second glance and deserve some recognition--defensive end Michael Johnson was one of those players. He has quietly put together his best season as a pro and had four total tackles, as well as a sack on Sunday versus the Raiders. He now has eight sacks on the season and could eclipse the double-digit mark for the year, which doesn't happen in Cincinnati all that often. He is part of a formidable defensive line rotation and is going to be owed a pretty substantial payday after this season, given it's a contract year for him.
Also on defense, we have to give a nod to middle linebacker, Rey Maualuga. For all of the scrutiny he has endured this season (and deservedly so), Maualuga has become a completely different player over the past couple of weeks. You can attribute it to being called out by his head coach and/or the mideseason shedding of about 20 pounds, but regardless, he's playing better football. Really where we notice the difference is in his activeness on the field. As many have pointed out, Maualuga seemed to play tentatively earlier this season and it hurt the defense immensely. He is flying to the ball more right now, and his general presence is much more noticeable. He finished with six total tackles and a fumble recovery on Sunday, while helping to keep the Raiders under 100 yards rushing for the game.
Though he's been a little shaky of late, kicker Mike Nugent had a quality game on Sunday. He started off with a miss on a long attempt, but rebounded nicely to finish with ten total points (two field goals and four extra points). The biggest play of Nugent's day, and likely his career, was the franchise record-tying 55-yard field goal that he hit right before the half. It was an impressive boot that atoned for his earlier miss and gave the Bengals a huge 24-0 halftime lead.
On offense, there were a number of players we could point to, but decided to narrow it down to one guy who has stepped up huge of late and constantly embodies the mantra of this award. Cedric Peerman has assumed the role of the second running back on Cincinnati's roster, due to an injury to Bernard Scott and has given the offense a huge boost. In consecutive weeks, Peerman has rattled off big runs, both lined up as a halfback in the team's traditional offense, as well as in his role as the up back in the punt unit. He had a highlight reel 31-yard run against Oakland, while finishing with 61 yards on the ground and has been an awesome supplement to BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Who gets your vote for the Cincinnati Bengals "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" for the Week 12 game against the Oakland Raiders?