Much better. After a primetime embarrassment, albeit a preseason one, the Bengals rebounded nicely at home in "The Dress Rehearsal" against the Bears. At one point in the first half, the Bengals held a three touchdown lead, as the game never really was close.
There were a number of Bengals players who contributed to the quality win, so these are our nominees for the team's Most Valuable Player Award in their 21-10 win. Cast you vote and sound off your winner for the Bengals MVP Award!
QB Andy Dalton: Though his night ended prematurely because of a minor neck injury, Dalton was superb on the team's opening drive. No. 14 was six-for-six passing with 52 yards, as well as having 16 yards on three carries, including the fourth-and-goal touchdown run. On an early gut-punch drive, Dalton engineered a 16-play drive that ate up 9:11 on the clock. In case you aren't a math whiz (Lord knows I'm not), Dalton accounted for 68 of those 77 yards on the drive.
QB AJ McCarron: There isn't a quarterback controversy in Cincinnati--just saying. However, the young man had a nice night in front of the home crowd Saturday night. He came in earlier than expected because of the Dalton injury, and lit it up with the starters. The second-year quarterback was 12-of-17 passing for 149 yards and a touchdown, with another nice 43-yard pass negated. He scrambled for another 12 yards on the ground.
RB Jeremy Hill: It wasn't the prettiest night for Hill, but he began to pick it up as the night went on. He had 46 yards on 11 carries, highlighted by a 26-yard scamper after another nice run was nixed from a holding penalty. He also had a touchdown run to put the team up 21-0 near halftime. Remember how he was working on lower-body strength in an effort to break more tackles? Look at his goal line run where a defender slid off of him while trying to bring him down.
WR Marvin Jones: There is a sense of cynicism among Bengals fans with the sentiment that simply having Tyler Eifert and Jones back healthy will be a cure-all for some offensive woes in 2014. As his playing time, especially with the starters, has slowly increased over the past two weeks, Jones has looked awesome. He had a deep catch wiped out by penalty, but made up for it with another high-effort touchdown catch. The 31-yarder capped a two-catch, 35-yard night for the young man.
DE Carlos Dunlap: The guy isn't a perennial Pro Bowl defensive end, but he just does everything well. The Bears were stifled on offense throughout the first half, and Dunlap was a major part of their issues. He had two tackles, a sack and another pressure on a night the defense was impressive.
S George Iloka: Sometimes big contributors don't always show up on the stat sheet. Sure, the reasoning is why we created our "Unsung Hero of the Week Award", but Iloka was so obviously active we just had to make him an MVP candidate. He blitzed often, helping to frustrate both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte early on, and forced plays to ostensibly go where they weren't intended. He ended the night with four total tackles.