After a very discouraging loss the Bengals bounced back against an unlikely team. The undefeated Buffalo Bills not only had one of the league's top offenses but they had beaten the Bengals 10 times in a row. There weren't many people, outside of Bengals fans, that had much hope for Andy Dalton and company to come away from week four with a win and in the first half those people looked like they would be right.
But the second half was a different story. After heading to the locker room down 17-3 to the Bills, the Bengals clawed back in the second half and ended up winning the game by a score of 23-20. Looking ahead at two very winnable games before the bye week has Bengals fans excited and they should be.
Before we jump into next week, he're our week four MVPs and Goats.
Naji Bsisu's MVP:
"Mike Zimmer and the Bengals defense. Sure Andy Dalton played lights out in the second half and A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham made some amazing catches but the team was only able to pull out a last second victory due to the defense. The Bills came in with the highest scoring offense in the NFL and were only able to put up 13 points on the Bengals defense."
- Not only did the Bengals hold the league's highest scoring offense to 13 points, they also have the No. 1 overall ranking in the NFL right now. They haven't had the best defense in the NFL since the last week of the 1983 season. In order for Andy Dalton and a young offense to succeed, the defense will need to continue to play tough, physical defense and I haven't been as confident in their ability to do so as I am right now in a pretty long time.
Dave Wellman's MVP:
"Let's give it up for Mike Nugent, who sealed the win with a last-second field goal. Everyone else's work getting to that point goes for naught if he misses that boot, and nothing is guaranteed to bring down the wrath of the fans more than a missed game-winning kick (see Graham, Shayne). And Nuge made it not once, but twice, as Chan Gailey tried the "icing" trick that Marvin loves too. He won't get nominated for any Pepsi awards, but Nugent was money last Sunday."
- Nugent wasn't just money on Sunday, Nugent has been money all season. He's made all 10 field goal attempts, the longest being from 47 yards away and he's also five for five on extra points. While Graham, Shayne was a good kicker the majority of the time, what Bengals fans hated about him was the fact that he wasn't good in the clutch. So far Nugent is good when it matters and that's what matters most to Bengals fans.
Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"A.J. Green. He not only made two of the best catches I have seen in a long time, they were huge in terms of momentum and getting Andy Dalton going. He had his second 100-yard receiving day in four career games and is really coming to his own. I see him as being a top five wideout in the NFL in the next few years and as Pete Prisco said earlier today, the Dalton-Green combination will be a good one for many years."
- Green is beginning to show everybody why he deserved to be selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Not only is he bringing in passes but against Buffalo he hauled in acrobatic catches that we haven't seen made in Cincinnati in a long time. One of the best things that a rookie quarterback can have, especially if that quarterback's deep passes aren't always right on target, is a receiver that catches everything around him.
Joe Goodberry's MVP:
"The Linebackers: Both Rey Maualuga and Thomas howard had the best games of their Bengals careers when the team needed them the most. Howard's assignment was to cover Bills RB Fred Jackson in Buffalo's spread offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick tested Howard's coverage skills on a few passes and the Bills found little success in that portion of their gameplan. Rey Maualuga finally looked comfortable in the middle with new faces on each side of him. At times, he was the only LB within the hash marks to defend the run because Buffalo was trying to spread the Bengals out. Late in the game, Maualuga made a few memorable stuffs courtesy of Fred Jackson. When the Bengals needed him the most, he stepped up and tackled Jackson behind the line to force a punt. Outstanding game by both players. Start the contract negotiations with Maualuga and I wouldn't be surprised if Keith Rivers never took a snap in a Bengals uniform again."
- After disappointing fans in the first three games, especially against the Broncos, Rey Maualuga played out of his mind against one of the best offenses in the NFL, leading the Bengals defense in tackles with 11. Thomas Howard played well, especially considering he had the tough assignment of keeping Fred Jackson in check. Even though Keith Rivers is out right now, this may be the best group of linebackers in recent Bengals history.
Naji Bsisu's Goat:
"Jerome Simpson/Andre Caldwell. One of these guys needs to step up and make some plays to take some pressure of AJ Green. Neither one has consistently been productive in the passing game so far."
- Simpson and Caldwell only combined for 43 yards receiving on five catches. The team's No. 2 and No. 3 receivers need to be better if they expect to help Dalton move the ball down the field.
Dave Wellman's Goat:
"One week you're the hero, next week you're the goat. Take a bow, Andre Caldwell. Caldwell was murder in the first half, dropping an easy catch early that killed a drive and then juggling a ball with several body parts right into the hands of a Bills safety for a pick six. His inconsistency throws into question once again what to do about both him and Jerome Simpson, both of whom are free agents after this season -- and both of whom now have big question marks as to re-signings."
- The pick six that Dalton threw was behind Caldwell and a little high but it was catchable. Caldwell had the ball in his hands but he had it pulled away as he was falling to the ground. I would think that the biggest motivator for both Caldwell and Simpson would be that they're in a contract year and there's no guarantee that they'll be in the league next year unless they really step it up. Hopefully at least one of them do.
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"Andre Smith. I saw him give up a sack and blow a couple of other blocking assignments. He had played well the first three games, but this wasn't his best effort. He may get a boost with Bobbie Williams' return, but he needs to continue to improve."
- Hopefully Williams' presence at right guard does help Smith at right tackle. He'll face Matt Roth this weekend, who has two sacks so far on the season, but the week after that he'll go head-to-head against Robert Mathis, who has a sack in three of the four games so far this season. Smith will have to be on top of his game to stop Mathis.
Joe Goodberry's Goat:
"NFL blackout rules -- When a person who lives 150 miles away can watch his favorite team but the guy who lives 15 minutes away cannot, there's a serious problem with outdated NFL rules. That rule doesn't punish a team for having outrageous ticket prices or for fielding an uninspiring team. It punishes the die-hard fan. The fan who will support the team no matter what. Average fan couldn't care less if he doesn't see the game. Instead, average fan will go shopping for blinds with his wife. Meanwhile, die-hard local fan scrambles to regain hos internet feed every time it cuts out. The system is flawed. Who's fault is it that watching the game at home is a better/safer/cheaper experience than actually going to the game? Not the fan."
- I could talk for hours about this, but Joe said everything that needs to be said.