After four straight losses, I’m looking for signs of improvement as the season begins to look lost. About now is when players stop ‘impressing’ or ‘depressing’ us with their play. By this time, we just have good, average and bad players. The weekly ups-and-downs of a young team have turned into a valley of mediocrity. With the slim chance of pulling themselves back into the AFC playoff race, here are five players that almost pulled off the victory against Denver and impressed us even in a loss.
He didn't put up spectacular numbers but at least he provided a spark after missing games due to his rib injury. When Leonard came into the game, the Bengals put together a scoring drive by going into a hurry-up mode. Leonard's ability to gain positive yardage on almost every play, along with his work in the passing game, allows Cincinnati to speed up their tempo.
Easily one of Tate's best return games in a Bengals uniform. He looked fast, decisive and even broke a few arm tackles. He set the offense up with good field position on almost every return.
He didn't play many snaps on defense, but when he did, the ‘other' undrafted rookie linebacker looked like the most athletic player of the unit. Lamur, a former safety, was fast and fluid in coverage and almost came away with an interception while running down the seam step-for-step with a tight end. He showed enough raw ability to warrant more playing time; especially in nickel packages.
He seemed to be the only defensive back that could get a hand on Peyton Manning's balls [Editor's note: This is totally an innocent statement]. He out-muscled Decker for the first interception and made an over-the-shoulder grab for his second pick of the game. Newman wasn't perfect; he got beat for a touchdown later, but he kept the Bengals in the game with timely turnovers.
This was Gresham's breakout performance. He was good in both phases of the game and even mentally stepped up; he dropped a pass early in the game and didn't seem to let it bother him like it has in the past. Denver's defense didn't look like they wanted any part of tackling Gresham and he also had some shinning moments in the blocking game.