Tremain Mack made a Pro Bowl. Adam Jones led the NFL. And Bernard Scott returned their last one for a touchdown seven years ago. But, according to Elias, it is rookie wide receiver Alex Erickson who became the first Bengal to ever have three kick returns of at least 65 yards in a season when his 72-yarder late in the first half Sunday turned out to be the Bengals’ last best chance to beat the Steelers. And all of them have come in the last seven games as he gets comfortable with the guys around him and he gets more chances thanks to the cold.
The two Bengals in their primes who are emerging as Pro Football Hall of Fame candidates, wide receiver A.J. Green and defensive tackle Geno Atkins, were voted yet again Tuesday to the Pro Bowl along with three alternates. Despite missing what amounts to the last five games with a partially torn hamstring, Green is now the only Bengal ever to go six-for-six in making the Jan. 29 game (8 p.m.-ESPN) in Orlando, Fla. Atkins made it for the fifth time in his seven seasons and trails only cornerback Lemar Parrish’s six Pro Bowls among all-time Bengals defenders.
Fantasy WRs were terrible this week, with cold weather killing any chance they had for success. Meanwhile, RBs racked up yards and points across the league. Hopefully your league has a flex spot, allowing you to play 3 RBs, and giving you a fighting chance to continue your campaign for a league title. And, to prove God has a sense of humor, nine (9) fantasy TEs scored 10-plus points this week. Tight End is by far the thinnest positing in all of fantasy sports (not just football, but ALL sports), yet this week almost every team in your league could have gotten a 10-point effort from their TE.
With Cincinnati officially eliminated from the playoffs, Bengals beat writers Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski debate the question on everyone's mind: Who is to blame? The fingers are being pointed. We also talk about the fourth-quarter riddle and if Vontaze Burfict is maturing. Hear from George Iloka and Tyler Eifert. Plus, the shocking conclusion to #ThatsSoJaggy, why you shouldn't ask to help Jim and a special wish of Merry Christmas.
The Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) blew a 14-point halftime lead on Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers to lose 24-20 at Paul Brown Stadium, clinching their first season with a losing record since 2010. The Baltimore Ravens eliminated them from the playoffs earlier in the day. The Houston Texans (8-6) came back from a 13-0 deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 21-20.
Tom Savage, the Houston Texans newest starting quarterback, might be unfamiliar to most watching or playing in Saturday's game. Not so for Cincinnati Bengals rookie Tyler Boyd.
Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert would love to be named to a second Pro Bowl, but don't expect him to actually play in the game. Eifert suffered an ankle injury in last season's Pro Bowl that required surgery and put him out of commission for the entire offseason. That injury, combined with a back injury, caused him to miss six games this year.
AFC North Bytes
The Steelers' Big Three made the Pro Bowl and they will bring two of their blockers with them. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown were joined by center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro as Pro Bowl selections, the NFL announced tonight. All five were chosen multiple times.
Michael Campanaro drew a healthy cheer in his first action of the season on Sunday – and that was just for a fair catch. Fans were clearly pleased to see the local fan favorite back on the field for the first time since the preseason, and they were also pleased to see a punt caught confidently and cleanly – something Devin Hester had failed to do consistently in his brief tenure with the Ravens.
Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas was named to his 10th straight Pro Bowl Tuesday night, and with the honor Thomas joined some elite company. Just four other players in NFL history — Merlin Olsen, Mel Renfro, Barry Sanders and Lawrence Taylor — were named to the Pro Bowl in at least the first 10 seasons of their careers. All of those players are Hall of Famers; only Olsen, with 14, went over 10.
As some fans complain about too many obscure bowls and participation trophies, draft analysts are getting one last look at potential prospects while the individual teams are benefitting from another few weeks of practice. For NFL fans, it may be hard to sort through the various bowl games, but it’s always nice to hone in a couple of prospects who may end up wearing your favorite pro team’s colors come next fall.
In a season full of surprises, here is one more. I asked five general managers, three from the AFC and two from the NFC, who they thought was the league MVP. The answer was unanimous and, to me at least, highly surprising: Aaron Rodgers.
The Pro Bowl is the NFL's annual talent showcase, but who plays in the all-star event is quite subjective. At times, those voted into the game are the result of a fan-determined popularity contest or name recognition instead of individual achievement. There are always those who appear to be less deserving than others around the league.
Richard Sherman is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. The Seahawks cornerback on Tuesday threatened to "ruin" a local reporter's career after "a couple of tough questions," per Stephen Cohen of the Seattle Post Intelligencer. The scene turned hot when Jim Moore of 710 ESPN asked Sherman about his nationally televised sideline blowup at offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell during last Thursday's win over the Rams.