Quite the turnaround, eh? The Bengals throttled the struggling Vikings at home on Sunday and plays were made by almost everyone that saw game action. It truly was a team effort, which ultimately culminated with another AFC North division crown. We already gave you some options on our MVP race and their contributions were definitely noticed. Here are some others that quietly did their jobs well, helping to guide the team to a much-needed win.
Marvin Jones, WR: Very quietly, the second-year man out of Cal has asserted himself into the No.2 receiving role this year. He had a solid game against Minnesota, getting chunk yardage and often on third down. He finished the day with six catches for 85 yards on seven targets and made many difficult grabs across the middle and by the sideline.
Mohamed Sanu, WR: Though he hasn't had the numbers that Jones has had this season, Sanu is still a valuable member of what the Bengals do on offense. Sanu had four catches for 35 yards and one touchdown. That wasn't all though--since the Bengals running game struggled all game, Jay Gruden decided to use No.12 as a running back. He had three carries for 12 yards in that duty, as well.
George Iloka, S: The Bengals 2012 Draft class is really blossoming, isn't it? Iloka slid into the starting safety role opposite Reggie Nelson and has been pretty solid for a good part of the year. He hadn't had an interception until yesterday, which was a highlight reel grab. Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel heaved a deep ball to Jerome Simpson only to have it doink off of Dre Kirkpatrick's face mask. The ball bounced right into Iloka's lap after he had fallen to the ground from covering Simpson as well. Aside from the pick, Iloka had two tackles--one of which was a great open field wrap up on a Cordarrelle Patterson end-around that could have been a huge gain.
Rey Maualuga, LB: The big Samoan was part of a unit that completely dominated the line of scrimmage and held Adrian Peterson to just 45 yards rushing. He had just three tackles on the day, but also had an interception late in the game. When Maualuga is on, this whole defense just plays better.
Mike Nugent, K: I was asked by a follower on Twitter to add Nugent to this weekly award list and wasn't sure why at first blush. No field goals in the game, though he was 6/6 on extra points with a new holder. Big whoop. But, the Twitter follower pointed out that the kicker was responsible for tackling Patterson twice on two different kick returns. Had those tackles not been made by Nugent, the game might have been quite different.
Shawn Powell, P: In his first game with the Bengals, Powell adequately filled-in for the injured Kevin Huber. He had a 40-yard average on his four punts and one pinned inside the 20-yard line. Though he had a couple of his punts returned for significant yardage, Powell also stepped up as the holder on kick tries and Nugent was six-for-sxi on the day with extra points.
Anthony Collins, OT: What a team player this guy has become. Pressed into a starting role when Andrew Whitworth was injured early in the year, Collins started at left tackle. He was sent back to bench, only to return when left guard Clint Boling was lost for the year and Whitworth then kicked inside. Since the San Diego game, Collins has manned that left tackle spot once again and allowed Andy Dalton to stay clean in the pocket for the past four games. On Sunday, Collins was switched to right tackle after Andre Smith sprained his ankle and continued to play well while doing what the coaches ask of him.