In a gritty win like the Bengals pulled off against the Steelers on Sunday, a number of players deserved credit for helping bring the Bengals to their first-ever 7-0 start. A handful of major contributors got the lion's share of the accolades, but other role players should also get recognition. That's what this weekly award post is about.
Cast your vote for the "Unsung Hero of the Week" and sound off on your winner in the comments.
RB Jeremy Hill: Though he didn't reach the end zone, Hill ground out tough yards against a Pittsburgh defense that swarmed to whatever the Bengals did on offense. He had four yards per carry on 15 carries and had 60 rushing yards on the afternoon, as well as an eight-yard reception.
TE Tyler Eifert: The big target who has shined this year, was bottled up for most of the game, still managed to make a few plays and move the sticks when Dalton was struggling. He had four receptions for 39 yards, with a couple that moved the chains. One was a tie-breaker situation where Eifert and a defender wrestled for the ball, but No. 85 won the battle.
LB Vontaze Burfict: Part of the criteria for this award stems from a player stepping up in the wake of injury and/or a guy who makes plays when not necessarily expected to do so. Burfict returned for the first time in a year and two tackles on the first two plays from scrimmage. He finished with three more and though Le'Veon Bell wasn't available for about two and a half quarters, Burfict was part of a defense that held Ben Roethlisberger and Co. to just 10 points.
KRs Brandon Tate and Adam Jones: While they didn't have the game-changing big pops that change a game, both guys had nice days retrieving kicks and punts. Jones had two returns with a 16-yard-per-return average, while Tate had a 27-yard kickoff return average, along with another five-yard punt return.
P Kevin Huber: The left-footer, who is the front runner of the UHOTW award for the year, had another good performance against Pittsburgh. He had four punts, and though it was only at a 34-yard average, three of the four kicks went inside the 20-yard line. Antonio Brown, who has continuously bludgeoned the Bengals in the return game was rendered completely ineffective with zero total yards on returns.
DT Geno Atkins: The Pro Bowl defensive tackle was in and out of the lineup, due to injury, while also having his spells of ineffectiveness, but he and other defensive linemen still had their effect felt. Atkins had two total tackles with a sack on the afternoon.
S Shawn Williams: The backup safety has been known as a run-stopper with minimal pass coverage ability, but he made one of the best interceptions in recent memory on Sunday. Roethlisberger had one of his patented scrambles for what seemed like an eternity and tried to hit fullback Will Johnson downfield. Williams stayed with Johnson and jumped the pass for a diving interception. That and another tackle were his only plays of the day, but the effects were felt.