What a homecoming for Bengals running back Jeremy Hill.
Playing in front of nearly 40 friends and family, Cincinnati's rookie running back posted 152 yards rushing on 27 carries for a 5.6 yard/rush average. Hill added a 62-yard run toward the end of the first half, allowing Cincinnati to steal a field goal and to take a 13-3 lead as the second quarter expired.
"I wasn't surprised how big the hole was – as a matter of fact I had a chance to make a big run on the play before," said Hill of the 62-yarder in the first half. "I knew I had all of their defensive players playing up on the box, and once I got through to the secondary it was just up to me to make a play and then I got down quickly enough for us to kick a field goal and to give us three points before the half."
"I was surprised there was only one second left," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "I thought there would be enough time but I'm glad we were able to save one second. When I saw him cut and make the guy miss, it was off to the races and I'm trying to beat Jeremy down to the official (to call timeout)."
This is Hill's second-best performance of the season, following his 154-yard effort against the Jacksonville Jaguars two weeks ago, which included two rushing touchdowns. Over the last three games, Hill has posted 361 yards rushing and a 5.7 yard/rush average. His 556 yards rushing now ranks as the team's best, outpacing Giovani Bernard's 446 yards rushing (Bernard missed his third consecutive game on Sunday).
This was a game circled on Hill's calendar. Born in Baton Rouge and having attended Baton Rouge Redemptorist high school, Hill picked the most obvious of colleges... Louisiana State University. Essentially, this man lived and breathed only Louisiana air for his entire life.
"It was big for me, coming back home - it was a terrific feeling. Actually it was my first time playing here," said Hill after the game. "And I watched tons of Saints games here and I've watched LSU play here before, and I watched national championship games in here as a kid growing up so it was a great opportunity to play and a big honor for me. I had a lot of family members and friends here out of high school and college teammates so it was good and a big win for us."
Hill was instrumental in the fourth quarter, as the Bengals were trying to expire the clock with a sustained possession. The rookie running back carried the football eight times during Cincinnati's final possession (not the knees), which helped wipe out 4:05 off the clock.
The win was big for Cincinnati, who had come off a 24-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football.
"We knew we had a lot of doubters looking at us after how we played last week so what we had to do is go out there and play Bengal football and that’s what we did today."
Jeremy Hill got a lot of shoulder taps, handshakes from teammates as he spoke with reporters in the locker room— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) November 16, 2014
"He’s going really well. I think, for him, he’s been able to be featured a little bit more since Gio (Giovani Bernard)’s been out, and he’s made some big plays," said Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton after the game. "Even that one play right before the half, that was a big run and it gave us points. We've just got to keep his progression going and he’s done a real good job."
"Jeremy is such a tough runner," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "As he keeps going and just becomes a Bengal and just plays football, he'll only be more and more impressive. He's got a lot of ability - he's strong, he can cut and run, he's got great speed, great vision and can catch the football. He's a very complete player. As a young guy, he's showing a lot right now. We've got to feel good about that."