The defense didn’t always make it pretty to watch the Bengals’ win over the Browns, but a win is a win.
The Bengals made the first necessary move to get their season back on track with their 31-17 victory over the Browns in Week 7. The game ends a two-game losing streak and brings the Bengals to 3-4 on the year.
Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers from the Bengals’ Week 7 performance.
It was pretty easy to forget about Jeremy Hill over the past two weeks as he rarely touched the ball, while Giovani Bernard got the bulk of the snaps at running back. Part of that was due to the Bengals’ offensive line struggling to open up holes for either back. Hill’s chest injury also led to him not seeing the field much to begin with, but he looked pretty healthy against the Browns in Week 7.
Hill finished with a career-high 168 rushing yards on just nine carries, giving him a ridiculous 18.7 yards per carry average. He would have done more had he not re-injured his chest in the fourth quarter, but it was minor and the Bengals kept him out just to be safe, as they ruled his return probable.
This was exactly the kind of game Hill needed to show he’s still one of the NFL’s best young running backs, and he has a bright future ahead of him.
Another game, another great performance by Andy Dalton, something we’ve said just about every week this season. Dalton is in the middle of a career year that has him on pace to break most of his career-high marks.
Against the Browns, Dalton completed 19 of 28 passes for 308 yards and two scores with no turnovers. It marked the fourth time this season that Dalton has thrown for at least 296 yards, and it’s also the fourth time this year he hasn’t committed a turnover in a game.
Dalton had only four games of 296-plus yards and six games with no turnovers in 14 games in 2015. To see he’s already hit or about to hit both marks shows that he’s still building off his career year.
Dalton is also showing he is what he is and not a product of Hue Jackson or Jay Gruden as his offensive coordinator.
The Bengals struggled to get A.J. Green the ball in each of their last two games, which is part of why they failed to win at Dallas or New England. That wasn’t the case against the Browns, as Green went off for 169 yards on eight grabs (on eight targets) and one score.
Green stepped up in a big way and made sure to punish the Browns’ depleted secondary every chance he got. He’s spent most of this season among the top five receiving leaders, and after this game, he may lead the NFL in receiving yards after Week 7.
Every defender involved here has to address A.J. Green as "sir" from now on https://t.co/nA8WH8g1yy— Zito (@_Zeets) October 23, 2016
Sure, Tyler Eifert didn’t affect the game much in the box score, but just having him back on the field was a big accomplishment for him after injuries appeared to be derailing his 2016 season before it even began.
Eifert finished the game with just one grab on two targets for nine yards, but, just seeming him on the field is a win after everything he’s gone through during the last 10 months.
And just having him playing may very well have helped open up the field for the Bengals’ offense to score a season-high 31 points.
Ogbuehi was abused by Browns rookie pass-rusher Emmanuel Ogbah, who came into this game with just one sack in six games, but finished this game with two sacks, six tackles, two QB hits, and two tackles for loss, most of which came vs Ogbuehi.
It’s clear Ogbuehi has no business starting at right tackle, even though he’s shown flashes of being a good one at times. He just makes far too many mistakes for this offense to reach its full potential, and it’s not like they’re doing that great either without his struggles.
Don’t be surprised if we see a new full-time starting right tackle once Cincinnati comes out of the bye in Week 9. Ogbuehi was relieved at times by veteran Eric Winston.
The Bengals’ defense has struggled over the past three games, and a big reason why is their best player has largely been a ghost. In blowout losses to the Patriots and Cowboys, Atkins finished with three tackles and no sacks.
Against the Browns, Atkins didn’t even have a tackle, and one QB hit was the lone statistic had registered. Part of Atkins failing to do much of anything over the last three games has been due to him getting double-teamed a lot and offenses running plays away from him, but even so, we’ve seen Atkins find ways to make far more plays on a regular basis than we’ve seen for three weeks now.
The Bengals need Atkins to step up if their defense is going to get back to being a respectable unit, something they’ve not been for much of this season.
It really felt like the offense had as great of a game as they possibly could have, but 31 points could have been at least 37 against a bad Browns defense. A pair of missed field goals by Mike Nugent, nullified two impressive Bengals drives and Nugent has officially looked shaky with a 2-of-5 stretch since Week 5.
That includes misses of 40, 45, and 50 (in a dome). His two makes were from 36 and 25 yards.