We've already touched on how well the offensive line played Sunday, but the man who really helped pave the way to victory was veteran guard Clint Boling.
Now in his fifth year with the Bengals and his fourth as the full-time left guard, Boling had one of the greatest games of his career Sunday while helping Cincinnati run over Oakland, to the tune of a 33-13 victory. Pro Football Focus had Boling as their No. 1 guard from Week 1. In fact, his 4.5 grade is the best any offensive lineman has received thus far.
Boling's Week 1 grade was the second-highest PFF grade he has received in his 50-game NFL career, and his 3.8 run-blocking grade was the best of his career. That's an area of his game that wasn't that great early in his first few NFL season. His grades in run blocking were -3.7 in 2011, 1.5 in 2012 and -2.1 in 2013.
However, Boling improved dramatically in that area last year, finishing with a 7.9 run-blocking grade, though the highest single-game grade he had was a 2.9 effort at New Orleans in Week 11. His improvement in that aspect of his game helped the Bengals finish sixth in rushing offense last year after being 18th in 2013.
At least for one week, Boling is rewarding the Bengals for that five-year, $26-million deal the team gave him this offseason. With Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth becoming free agents next year while Kevin Zeitler hits free agency in 2017, having Boling locked up through 2020 looks even better now.