Cincinnati hadn’t won in Denver in over four decades, and they also had just one road win this season entering Week 11. That was a Week 4 destruction of what’s now an 0-10 Browns team.
Needless to say, this win meant a little more than perhaps any win we’ll see from the Bengals in 2017. As you can imagine, it took some big games from the heavy-hitters to win in Denver, which was evident in the Pro Football Focus grades.
Andy Dalton had a near-perfect passer rating of 156.3, on deep passes. Dalton completed three of four passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns when targeting a receiver 20 or more yards down field, good for an overall PFF grade of 81.2.
That included a touchdown to Alex Erickson in the first quarter that put the Bengals ahead for good. Dalton then threw a touchdown to A.J. Green in the fourth quarter that effectively was the game-winning score in a three-point win.
Dalton has yet to thrown an interception on deep passes this year, but has been much less accurate than in Week 11. Excluding Week 11, Dalton has completed six of 27 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Erickson caught just two passes, but he was one of the most efficient receivers in Week 11. He ran four routes, caught both of his targets for 42 yards and one touchdown giving him 10.5 yards per route run.
For the whole season, Erickson has been the second-most efficient wide receiver with 1.65 yards per route run. Perhaps he’s earned a little more playing time.
Left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi didn't allow a single pressure this week, the first week since Week 4 versus the Browns. Ogbuehi's overall PFF grade of 69.9, doesn't reflect his clean pass-blocking performance due to his run blocking grade of 44.0. Still, for him to hold up while blocking pass-rushers like Shane Ray and Von Miller, this was a great day for the embattled left tackle.
The same cannot be said of starting right guard Trey Hopkins, who was the lowest-graded offensive lineman for the Bengals at 34.0. Hopkins allowed one quarterback hurry and had a pass-blocking grade of 72.9, but his run-blocking grade of 26.4 is didn't help raise his overall grade. This was his lowest grade since Week 1 versus the Ravens.
It wasn’t much better for embattled center Russell Bodine, who was the Bengals’ second-worst ranked offensive lineman with a grade of 39.0. Like Hopkins, this was his lowest grade since Week 1 versus the Ravens.
Thus far in Week 11, linebacker Vontaze Burfict has earned the best overall PFF grade for a linebacker at 89.9, due in large part to his performance against the run. Burfict recorded six stops against the run on 27 snaps, giving him a 22.2-percent run-stop rate, the best mark in the NFL in Week 11.
With Adam Jones and William Jackson sidelined, cornerback Josh Shaw earned a solid 84.6 overall PFF grade this week. Shaw allowed an average of 0.43 yards per snap he was in coverage while being targeted once every 10 coverage snaps.
Defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow also earned a solid PFF grade of 81.1. Glasgow's performance against the run was rated as the second best this week. He had an 18.8-percent stop rate, and of his 16 snaps against the run, he "stopped" the run short three times.
Defensive tackle Geno Atkins earned one of the Bengals’ highest marks with an 83.1 PFF grade. Atkins recorded five quarterback pressures, one hit, and four hurries on 36 passing snaps, which means that he pressured the quarterback on 10.4-percent of the passing snaps he was on the field for. The 10.4-percent pressure rate is fifth in the NFL so far, trailing only Lawrence Guy, Michael Pierce, Gerald McCoy, and Malik Jackson.
Pass-rushing specialist Carl Lawson earned his lowest overall PFF grade of the season with a 57.3, despite getting three quarterback pressures, (a sack, a hit, and a hurry) on 27 passing snaps. His low grade was largely due to his discipline grade of 7.3, which was aided by two offsides penalties.