Uh, “win one for the gipper”, I guess?
The Bengals didn’t have anything to play for, except pride, of course, and they stepped up for the embattled Marvin Lewis.
In their 26-17 win, Cincinnati eliminated Detroit from playoff contention, while also hurting their own draft position.
Still, it was a nice potential swan song for Lewis at Paul Brown Stadium.
Giovani Bernard: Gio is the best running back on the roster right now and is really one of the only Bengals still playing with heart. After carrying the load with Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon out of the lineup lately, No. 25 had another great game against the Lions.
His blocking prowess continues to go unnoticed, but his running and receiving skills don’t. Bernard finished with 26 rushes, 116 yards and a score, as well as seven catches for 57 yards.
Tyler Boyd: After a pretty decent rookie season, Boyd has faded into obscurity this year. Injuries and an off-field incident have played their part, but he stepped up nicely against Detroit.
He seemed to be a big part of Bill Lazor’s game plan, as he had five receptions for 39 yards. It might not jump out at first blush, but a few moved the sticks, which is exactly the purpose in which he was drafted.
Brian Hill: It’s pretty cool when an unheralded player steps up and does well at the professional level. Mixon got dinged up early, so it was up to Bernard and Hill to aid the offense.
The undrafted rookie had four carries for 17 yards and a nice 34-yard reception. Cincinnati’s staff saw something out of him, as they grabbed him off of the Falcons’ practice squad and he has had some nice plays.
Randy Bullock: What a day for the veteran kicker. Bullock was 4-of-4 on field goals, including a 51-yarder in the rain, while also converting an extra point attempt. He wasn’t the ideal candidate for the job this year and has only attempted 19 field goals all year, but with two misses, he hasn’t been the problem in 2017.
William Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick: A great day from the first round duo, as they combined to break up four of Matthew Stafford’s passes.
Andy Dalton: “It wasn’t all his fault” might as well be on No. 14’s headstone. For those who are quick to defend Dalton, the egregious amount of drops by players against Detroit needs to be noted. And, it’s in that facet, as well as playing behind one of the worst offensive lines an NFL has trotted out in recent memory, that has Dalton in this category.
However, Dalton continued to show poor mechanics against the Lions, as evidenced by his inexcusable interception he threw off of his back foot on Sunday. He isn’t audibling out of plays that are doomed from the start and just looks rattled. Yes, the Bengals got the win, but more questions about No. 14’s viability as the team’s long-term starter (especially under a potential new head coach) haven’t been quelled.
Jordan Willis: After impressing greatly in the preseason, the rookie third-round has failed to live up to expectations. He officially has as many sacks (one) as important penalties against.
At a critical moment in the contest, Willis ran into the Lions’ punter to give them back a fourth-and-short, in which they converted and turned into a touchdown late in the game. If Carl Lawson’s Rookie of the Year-type campaign is any indication, Willis’ career has a high ceiling, but 2017 is quickly becoming a wash.
Clint Boling: The veteran offensive lineman falls into the same category of Dalton in “it’s not all his fault”, but he struggled as the team forced him to play left tackle. At Georgia, Boling played all over the line, which is what made him an attractive prospect to the Bengals, but he isn’t an NFL tackle.
Ezekiel Ansah got the best of him on a couple of occasions, including a critical red zone sack. Boling is currently the best Bengals lineman, but left tackle isn’t his forte.
Vincent Rey: As a former coach myself, I love having a guy like Rey on the roster. He’s high-character, does everything that is asked of him and makes the occasional play.
Unfortunately, he isn’t a reliable starting and/or a guy you want taking significant defensive snaps. “Mr. one-step-behind” got exposed by Eric Ebron, as yet another tight end torched the Bengals defense.
Jordan Evans: A lot of people had high hopes for the sixth-round pick and though his athleticism bodes well long-term, there have been noticeable struggles. Paul Guenther has tried to find a remedy to guard opposing tight ends, but no one on the roster has proven able.
Evans was seen chasing Ebron, as he caught a touchdown pass. It isn’t the sight fans wanted to see after so many others at that position have carved the defense the past two years.
A.J. Green: Yes, he’s great. Yes, he led the Bengals with 81 receiving yards. However, we just expect more out of the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver.
Green saw a perfectly-thrown ball bounce off of his facemask early in the game, while also committing a bad false start penalty late. He’s been frustrated with the team’s performances, while also blanketed by tight coverage, but he needs to do more.