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Bengals vs Cardinals: Jeremy Hill, Tyler Eifert among winners; Darqueze Dennard among losers from Week 11

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We take a look at this week's Bengals winners and losers after another close loss in primetime.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals lost their second straight game, though they put up a solid effort in the fourth quarter to come back from behind. They were able to tie up the game with less than two minutes remaining, but the defense fell short on the ensuing play. The Bengals' defense was down a few players after losing Darqueze Dennard and Shawn Williams to shoulder and ankle injuries in the second half, which didn't help. Here is our breakdown of who looked best and worst in Sunday night's loss.


Leon Hall: Any time you do something that puts you in the same company as Lemar Parrish, you're a winner in my book. When Leon Hall picked off Carson Palmer on the Cardinals' opening drive, it was Hall's 25th career interception, tying him with Bengals-great, Parrish for fourth most interceptions in franchise history. He's now six picks behind David Fulcher for third place on the team's all-time list.

With the Bengals' secondary depleted in this game, Hall had a good night and did his best to keep the Bengals in the game. After a so-so 2014 season, Hall is playing very well this year and deserves to be re-signed before he hits free agency in March.

Tyler Eifert: After having maybe the worst game of his NFL career last Monday night, Tyler Eifert made sure to bounce back from that quickly on Sunday night against the Cardinals. On 3rd-and-goal in the first quarter with the game scoreless, Andy Dalton fired a jump ball for Eifert who went up and hauled it in for the score to put the Bengals up 7-0.

Eifert is also now the single-season touchdown leader by a tight end in Bengals franchise history. He was tied with Bob Trumpy and Rodney Holman at nine coming into this game, and now the lead in this category is Eifert's alone with several other records in sight. Eifert scored again in the fourth quarter to put his total at 11, and is now just six scoring grabs behind Carl Pickens for the franchise record by any pass-catcher.

Geno Atkins: There's no question who the Bengals' best player is. Geno Atkins continues to showcase his dominance against a decent Cardinals offensive line and had a monster first half that helped the Bengals take a 14-7 halftime lead. He had a tackle for no gain that helped force a punt, a three-yard tackle for loss and a sack.

The Cardinals spent more time double-teaming Atkins and running plays away from him in the second half to keep him quiet, but Atkins did help get enough push on a key 3rd-and-1 stuff the Bengals had in the fourth quarter to force a punt.

Jeremy Hill: Despite the struggles of Jeremy Hill, the Bengals have continued to stay with him in hopes of finding that same late-season magic he provided last season. While he didn't break off any big runs in this game, Hill was able to gain 45 yards on 13 carries and scored twice at the goal line. He's now quietly gotten to eight total touchdowns this season after having nine in 2014. While the yards may not be there, Hill is scoring at a higher rate than he did as a rookie.


Darqueze Dennard: This was a rough first NFL start for cornerback Darqueze Dennard. He gave up a big touchdown to John Brown in the third quarter that gave the Cardinals their first lead of the night. He's played well in spot duty this season, but he was unable to hold up in his first start as a boundary corner.

Dennard also suffered a shoulder injury on that touchdown play as he went down awkwardly while trying to defend the touchdown pass. He had to be helped to the locker room for x-rays and did not return. It looks like Dennard may miss significant time, and this was just an all-around bad game for him.

Dre Kirkpatrick: With the Bengals' secondary hurting, Dre Kirkpatrick needed to step up, but instead, he continued to be a liability for this defense. He gave up several big plays, most of which came in the second half. The biggest was when rookie receiver J.J. Nelson caught a 3rd-and-14 seven yards short of the first down, and all Dre had to do was make the tackle, but he whiffed and allowed Nelson to run it 36 yards to the Bengals' 17-yard line

From there, the Cardinals would get a touchdown two plays later to take a 28-14 lead. Kirkpatrick needs to make these kinds of plays, and too often, he's failed to do so this season.

Bengals in Primetime: Just as it appeared the primetime concerns were going away, they're back as Cincinnati has dropped two-straight games under the bright lights. As has normally been the case during their primetime woes, players who have normally been reliable made uncharacteristic mistakes that were often costly.

A.J. Green dropped several passes over the middle and had one go off his fingertips late in the fourth quarter. An elite receiver should catch those passes. Giovani Bernard dropped a pitch in the third quarter that helped lead to a punt. Marvin Jones dropped a wide-open touchdown in the fourth quarter. Even Andrew Whitworth got embarrassed for a sack by the 35-year-old Dwight Freeney.

What makes all of this more painful was it all came in another narrow loss that if just one more play had been made, or one less mistake in this case, the Bengals would have won.