Is there anything that this 2013 Cincinnati Bengals squad does that surprises us anymore? We have seen the good, great, bad and hideous this year, yet somehow they have managed to come out relatively clean and sit atop the AFC North at 7-4. If someone had told me that the Bengals would come out with a three-touchdown win against the Browns, I'd be a little surprised, though maybe not all that much so. If that same someone had told me how they came about that win, I'd be incredibly surprised.
Here are some of the Bengals plays of the week for you to vote on as tops against the Browns:
James Harrison's First Quarter Interception: Things looked bleak heading into the second quarter. The Bengals were down by 13, looked stunned and were in desperate need of a huge play to swing the momentum. Leave it to a grizzled veteran linebacker who cut his teeth in Pittsburgh for a huge spark. James Harrison channeled his 2009 Super Bowl form and picked off a pass that he returned for a touchdown while bowling through three or four Browns players. The touchdown ended up being called back, but the damage was done and the Bengals fed off of the play. This likely would be this poll's runaway win if the touchdown stood.
Jermaine Gresham's Second Quarter 25-Yard Touchdown Reception: It almost looked as if the anemic Bengals offense needed Harrison's touchdown to stand. After they took over at the Browns' 12-yard line, Cincinnati's first play was horrendous. BenJarvus Green-Ellis lost three yards on a carry and the Bengals had to move back ten more yards because of a holding penalty. On second down, Andy Dalton threw a beautiful pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham and he muscled his way into the end zone to get Cincinnati in the board and take advantage of Harrison's interception. This, too, was a buge momentum-shifter.
Shaun Williams' Blocked Punt: Though the Bengals started to fight back, they needed more big plays. Rookie safety Shaun Williams helped the cause by partially blocking a punt which then netted nine yards. The ball landed at the 38-yard line of Cleveland and put Cincinnati in position to take the improbable lead, which was huge as this drive by Cleveland stalled out after Gresham's touchdown. Williams' clock helped swing the momentum and get into the Browns' heads.
Mohamed Sanu's Second Quarter Pass To Giovani Bernard: You have to give credit to two players on this one. After Williams' block, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden decided to get sneaky. Dalton dropped back and threw a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Mohamed Sanu. The former part-time college quarterback lofted a beauty to rookie running back Giovani Bernard for a 25-yard gain to set the Bengals up to take the lead on six-yard touchdown reception by Sanu. Props to Bernard as well for hanging onto the pass while taking a hit from a defender.
Jayson DiManche's Blocked Punt And Tony Dye's Return For A Touchdown: After this play happened, you started to get the feeling that the Bengals wouldn't relinquish the lead for the rest of the afternoon--and they didn't. Tony Dye, who was called up this week because of an injury to Chris Crocker, came up huge in his spot duty. Linebacker Jayson DiManche shot up the middle and blocked the punt. After a scramble ensued, Dye came out with the football and cruised into the end zone. It was a crazy play that gave the Bengals an eight-point lead after being down by 13. Truly an amazing play, given that the Bengals blocked a punt just a few minutes earlier.
Vontaze Burfict's Forced Fumble, Recovery And Return For A Touchdown: The Bengals' emerging defensive captain came up with an enormous play late in the second quarter that would ultimately slam the door shut on any type of chance for a Cleveland comeback. The Browns were reeling from the two blocked punts and the swift comeback by the Bengals and were looking to chew clock and get some points before the half. Jason Campbell, who played it safe almost all day, threw a swing pass to Chris Ogbonnaya in the flat. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict sniffed it out, lowered his shoulder and popped the ball loose. More than that, he scooped it up and ran it for a touchdown to give the Bengals a two-possession lead.
Adam Jones' Long Punt Return Before Halftime: The Browns wanted to get into the locker room at halftime and get their heads straight after all that had transpired in the second quarter. They punted with under a minute left, hoping that the Bengals would sit on the football and not extend their lead. Cornerback and return man Adam Jones fielded a punt and returned it 27 yards to the Cleveland 32-yard line, giving the team an opportunity for more points and a gut-punch to the Browns. Mike Nugent hit the 41-yarder before halftime to give the Bengals an insurmountable 18-point lead at the half.
Reggie Nelson's Third Quarter Interception: As the rain came down in Cincinnati during the second half, so did the teams' ability to throw the ball effectively. Right before the weather got really bad though, Campbell threw a pretty 74-yard touchdown to get the Browns within reasonable reach for a comeback midway in the third quarter. The Bengals offense stalled after a nine-play drive and had to punt it back to the Browns with only an 11-point lead at this time. More points for Cleveland would have put the game's difference at one possession. Campbell got a bit greedy on the ensuing possession and floated one to Greg Little. Reggie Nelson streaked onto the camera and plucked it out of the air for an interception, which was a late momentum-killer. The Bengals didn't get any more points, but the play ended up swinging field position and made Cleveland gunshy about heaving the ball downfield when they needed to make a comeback.
Alex Smith's Two -Yard Touchdown Catch In the Fourth Quarter: Though it wasn't the prettiest of plays, it all but sealed the game. The Bengals had the ball to start the fourth quarter and decided to ride their running back horses to chew clock. They ran the ball six straight times--Green-Ellis had five and Bernard had one--which set up a play action opportunity with ease. Dalton hit tight end Alex Smith for a short touchdown and the rest was history.
What play gets your vote for the best one of the week against the Browns in Week 11?