There have been two games that you could identify with the Cincinnati Bengals having controlled this year, leading to dominating victories despite the lack of a significant margin on the scoreboard. And in both cases, the Bengals were a superior rushing offense.
In week two against the Steelers, Cincinnati consumed nearly 36 minutes by pounding the football 34 times for 127 yards rushing, highlighted by BenJarvus Green-Ellis saturating the final quarter with 13 attempts and wiping out over ten minutes on the clock. They controlled the line, sustained multiple possessions with time-consuming possessions and held onto the ball for 20:54 in the second half alone.
Things went bonkers against the Green Bay Packers in week three with the Bengals leading early by 14, losing by 16 in the third, only to win by four thanks to a fumble return for a touchdown. Between the Packers and Browns, the Bengals ran 120 plays from scrimmage and only 36.7 percent was on the ground.
Andrew Whitworth took a stand for his offensive linemen, becoming persuasively vocal about their hunger to become physical again.
"That isn't coming from me. That comes from the fact our line wanted that, the young guys on this offense want that," Whitworth said via Bengals.com. "I'm never scared to stand up and say, 'Hey, this is what guys are whining to me about,' or saying to me, or what they want the opportunity to show. I'm never scared to say what our guys want an opportunity to do."
"There's no doubt. This line wants to run the football. I think this offense wants to run the football and be physical. Just the attitude and physicality to be able to go and do what is going to help us win games."
And that's what they did against the Patriots, running 39 times for 162 yards rushing with a time of possession advantage of 35 minutes. In the fourth quarter alone, the Bengals ran at a 4-1 clip while holding onto the ball for nearly ten minutes.
"Possessing the football when you have the team to be able to do that is winning football," said Whitworth. "Like (Sunday). We had lot of long drives that didn't result in scores. Nine-, 10-play drives. You're possessing the ball."