We're not ones to give out excessive pats on the back during losses, nor are we a fan of "moral victories" here at Cincy Jungle. However, in every loss there seems to be at least a handful of players who have done their respective jobs and did what they could to help the team win--be it loudly or quietly. This award is for those Bengals players that did their work quietly and were not part of our weekly MVP discussion.
Andy Dalton, Quarterback: Dalton played efficient football on the road, in a hostile environment while in frigid weather. The Red Rifle threw for 230 yards, two touchdowns and didn't have a turnover in the game. He avoided pressure much of the night and only took one sack while trying to lead his team back into the game. Think about this: Dalton had a 57% completion percentage in the game which includes FIVE drops by receivers. If his targets make even three of those catches, his night looks a lot more impressive.
Giovani Bernard, Running Back: He and Dalton were one of the few Bengals players that seemed to actually have come to play in Pittsburgh. Minimal running lanes only allowed Bernard to have 33 yards on the ground, but he did have a touchdown and added 13 more yards on receptions. Not his best day, but he plugged away the best that he could.
A.J. Green, Wide Receiver: The All-World receiver had nine catches for 93 yards and was unstoppable on comeback and out routes during the evening. He had one crucial drop on a third and long and only caught half of the passes his way, but was still effective on the evening in the short and intermediate game. Green has 87 catches for 1,268 yards on the season.
Vontaze Burfict, Linebacker: Yes, it wasn't a great showing by the defense, but Burfict at least wrapped Pittsburgh's offensive players up and brought them down, which is more than others on the unit can say. Not a spectacular game by any means, and he did have some mistakes, but Burfict still got into double-digit tackles with a dozen on the evening.
Mike Nugent, Kicker/Punter: I'm nominating Nugent here because he had to go through the evening as the team's punter. It was a duty he hadn't done since his early days with the Jets and filled in admirably for the injured Kevin Huber. You could tell that he wasn't the most comfortable with it, but still had a 40-yard average on the night on two kicks. He also converted two extra points with an unfamiliar holder in Dalton.