For a game that didn't have much meaning, the Bengals and Ravens turned a pretty entertaining match up on Sunday. We saw a lot of backups play in the game, particularly on the Ravens' side, but it ended up being a one possession game with the Bengals puling out the victory. There were some strange plays and some lulls in the game, but a few Bengals players came up huge in the 23-17 win--particularly on defense.
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap had one of his trademark big games on Sunday. With Dunlap, when he has a big day, he has an enormous one and it usually turns the tide of the game. Dunlap finished with two tackles, a sack, and an interception that he returned 14 yards for a touchdown. He is one of the most athletically gifted defensive players on the team, but battles consistency issues. If he can turn in these types of performances in the postseason, the Bengals should be in good shape.
Though he didn't have the big plays that Dunlap did, linebacker Vontaze Burfict was omnipresent against the Ravens, racking up--get this--18 total tackles. Ten of the tackles were solo and he turned in quite an effort on Sunday, as he was nominated for Pepsi's Rookie of the Week for his performance. Burfict has been quite the steal for the Bengals this year, playing well on the field and proving to be a quality citizen off of it.
Rookie wide receiver Marvin Jones had the only offensive touchdown of the day for the Bengals, as he put a great move on a handful of Ravens defenders to scoot into the end zone. The 11-yard catch was Jones' first of the year and he finished with five catches for 45 yards on the day. He's seemingly improved each week since stepping into the second wide receiver role and the hope is that he'll take pressure off of A.J. Green in the postseason as well.
The Bengals truly found a gem when they picked up place kicker Josh Brown off of the street late in the year. Since Mike Nugent went down, Brown has hit all of his field goal attempts, save for a 56-yarder at the tough Heinz Field. A week after hitting the game-winner against the Steelers, Brown put up ten points against the Ravens, going three for three on field goal attempts. The long make of his was a 47-yarder and Cincinnati is undoubtedly looking for a similar performance in the playoffs.
Who gets your vote for the Week 17 Most Valuable Player Award?