The knock on the Cincinnati Bengals, dating back to last season, is that they can't beat the good teams. Yet those that knock the team acknowledge that Cincinnati is capable enough to beat those underdogs that they're supposed to beat. And that's clear. Perhaps that was the case against the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday, where the Bengals put together their best total effort during the team's 27-10 win over the Jaguars.
Offensively struggling early in the game, the Bengals found an ironic spark from special teams during Cedric Peerman's fake punt, where he sprinted 48 yards down the right sidelines. The second quarter call by special teams coach Darrin Simmons led to an Andy Dalton touchdown pass to Chris Pressley with 6:21 remaining and a 10-7 lead -- a lead the Bengals wouldn't relinquish. In fact Cincinnati kept extending their lead, eventually establishing a 24-10 advantage during an A.J. Green reception with 13:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. And despite fumbling the football for the second time in as many weeks, BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran the football 26 times for 82 yards. Though the average is low, his workman-like production clearly helped expire the fourth quarter clock and seal Cincinnati's win. But we'll have more on him later this week.
Yet even if the offense struggled, the defense had their most complete game of the year, holding Jacksonville to 212 yards on offense. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew was ineffective, rushing 13 times for 38 yards and a 2.9 yard/rush average. The defense sacked Blaine Gabbert six times and Chris Crocker intercepted the quarterback in the fourth quarter. But most importantly, missed tackles was a theme to the game. And not to throw fuel on the fire, but after causing so many fans to snarl in disgust after the team signed him, Crocker's return obviously helped Cincinnati's infirmed secondary. Individually he competently closed Justin Blackmon's second quarter vertical out of bounds and picked off a Blaine Gabbert pass in the fourth quarter, leading to A.J. Green's touchdown that gave Cincinnati a 27-10 lead.
+ What can you say about Andrew Hawkins? Posted another big reception and late in the game downed a punt inside the five-yard line.
+ A.J. Green posted six receptions for 117 yards receiving and a touchdown. This is the first time in Green's career that he generated 100 yards receiving in consecutive games, combining 200 yards receiving between Washington and Jacksonville. Green has also posted a touchdown in three straight.
+ Vontaze Burfict had his best game yet. He deflected passes, sacked the quarterback and led the team with eight tackles.
+ The Bengals posted six quarterback sacks, including two by defensive tackle Geno Atkins and one by Carlos Dunlap. Burfict, Manny Lawson and Domata Peko also posted their first sacks of the season. It's the second time in as many weeks that the Bengals posted six tackles in a game.
+ Loved Chris Pressley posting his first career touchdown. Reminded me a lot of Jeremi Johnson during his prime, when he was a great blocker and a good outlet for Carson Palmer.
+ Rey Maualuga had a few more shots today than highlighted issues we've seen so much this season. We're still not saying he's playing good, but this was one of his better performances.
+ We have a point of concern with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, however we wanted to point out that he was a workhorse against the Jaguars. Not a great average but helped expire the time late in the game. That being said after spending his career as a noted running back that never fumbles, BenJarvus Green-Ellis fumbled the football early in the third quarter. It was his second in as many weeks and later in the game, he dropped and recovered another.