Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill has submitted a stud-like second half on his rookie campaign, putting him in conversation with other rookie of the year candidates such New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Dallas Cowboys guard Zach Martin (as if writers are ballsy enough to vote an offensive lineman for anything) and even Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater... writes KC Joyner at ESPN.
Over the last eight games, Hill has generated 829 yards and averaged 5.6 yards/rush and six rushing touchdowns. He's posted 140 yards or more in four of those eight games and if we stretched out his pace throughout an entire season, Hill would crush the franchise record with 1,658 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
And it was this run that demanded the attention of an entire nation, helping Cincinnati recover from a deflating pick-six by Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib.
If there's one chink in Hill's armor, it's ball security.
Despite powering through 148 yards rushing and two touchdowns last week against the Cleveland Browns, Hill fumbled the football twice and has fumbled it five times over the last seven games. Head coach Marvin Lewis issued a threat.
"I think he did OK. He's got to hold onto the football more though, or he'll find himself standing beside me more often than he wants," said Lewis last week. "We can't have the ball on the ground and that's important. Anybody that's carrying the ball for us, just like what we said with the quarterback, we don't want to put the ball at risk. Offensive runners and receivers, we can't put the football at risk."
Then during a third quarter drive during Monday's game, the Bengals were losing their grip against a Broncos squad that finally came alive. With Denver down six points and 5:07 remaining in the third quarter, Jeremy Hill drove into a sea of bodies from the Broncos eight-yard line readying a score that would have recouped their 13-point advantage.
Instead Von Miller muscled the football away from Hill, allowing a possession that resulted in a 91-yard touchdown drive and the lead.
"Physics," Hill said via ESPN, "it doesn't work that way, man. That's too much force going in two different directions, and he made a great play on the ball. I've just got to learn to cover up with two hands and just get down and get us to the next play."
"We have to protect the football," coach Marvin Lewis said via ESPN. "We made this too interesting by turning the football over.
"It's something I'm not used to doing, and I still can't get used to," Hill said. "You've just got to learn from it and continue to go out there and continue to fight and try to overcome adversity."