The folks over at ProFootballFocus.com have highlighted three Bengals player performances from Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.
First, PFF praises defensive end Michael Johnson. Johnson was in top form against the Redskins on Sunday with career high three sacks. Johnson's aggressive playing terrorized Robert Griffin III, preventing the rookie quarterback from finding a rhythm for most of the game. Johnson generated seven additional hits on the quarterback. He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week as a result of his tremendous play. Had Johnson been overlooked by PFF, it may have caused more uproar than the "Toucherception" controversy on Monday Night Football. Alright, maybe not quite to that extent...
Johnson was a force in this game all day long. He batted a pass and played the run well, despite at one point failing to drag down both parts of a read-option play with one arm in an ambitious effort. The Redskins lost starting LT Trent Williams early in the game, so it’s worth noting who Johnson was playing against for much of the game (Jordan Black – recently out of retirement and no great shakes before he quit the game), but that shouldn’t cause people to overlook how excellent he was in this game, and the potential he still has if he wants to play like this every week.
Second, PFF gives the well deserved and obvious nod to Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. On Andy Dalton:
Dalton threw for three touchdowns, 328 yards and had a passer rating of 132.9 on just 19 completions in this game. He did throw a pretty ugly pick-six in his own end zone, but it was under pressure and his delivery was hampered by defenders.
There's no question Dalton played a phenomenal game against Washington. Aside from the bizarre pick six he threw in the first quarter, the second year quarter back commanded the offense at a level that many Cincinnati fans expected when he was drafted in 2011. Dalton's passer rating and completion percentage were both career highs on Sunday. Speaking of career highs, A.J. Green set a personal best as well:
Green was thrown at 10 times, and caught nine of them for 183 yards and a touchdown. When passes were thrown at him, the QB rating was 152.1 and he beat four different defenders to those catches. In his second season, Green is already one of the game’s best receivers and has shown that he can snatch passes from anywhere around him, beat people over the top, and make plays in close coverage.
Lastly, PFF takes addresses the buzzkill that was the Bengals linebackers, particularly Rey Maualuga. Maualuga's ineffective play certainly did not go unnoticed:
Rookie Vontaze Burfict and Vincent Rey didn’t exactly distinguish themselves, but it was Rey Maualuga that had the true nightmare in the middle. He allowed a catch on all seven passes into his coverage for 89 yards, and missed three tackles.
There were moments in the game where Maualuga appeared to be running with cinder blocks strapped to his feet when pursuing an opponent. He routinely was caught jogging after a Redskins player gaining yards on the ground when the game was on the line. At the same time, there was little to write home about in regards to Bengals linebackers in general as the Bengals relied heavily on their defensive line to disrupt the quarterback from making plays down the field. When a player is falling short of the high expectations Maualuga has, someone needs to step up. The Bengals are suffering from the Maualuga experiment and could use a playmaker in the middle of the field.
Additionally, PFF gives a short compliment to Andrew Hawkins for his continued playmaking. Hawkins continues to make plays when the ball is in his hands and hopefully the Bengals are continually finding new ways to get him opportunities.
The "Game Ball" of the entire game was, of course, given to Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. It's hard to argue declaring Dalton and Green as co-MVPs of Week 3, but Michael Johnson's career game was equally crucial in the outcome of the game. Robert Griffin III was a large reason the Redskins were favored to win last Sunday's matchup, and Michael Johnson was a large reason he fell short. Either way, the performances of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green were explosive, to say the least, and there are worse problems to have than debating on which three Bengals players deserve the Game Ball.