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Bengals’ banged up defense hold against the Lions

The Bengals suffered plenty of injuries against the Lions on Sunday, but they still found a way to stop one of the NFL’s best offenses when it mattered most.

Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Bengals got to play the Grinch against the Lions on Christmas Eve as they pulled out a 26-17 victory. A big story from Sunday was just how many injuries the Bengals suffered on the defensive side of the ball. Considering how many guys the Bengals were already down, it seemed like it would be impossible for them to survive losing anymore guys. Yet after the Lions went up 17-16 late in the fourth quarter the defense stepped up, and they shut down the Lions the rest of the game.

The Bengals were already thing on defense coming into the game. They recently placed Kevin Minter and Nick Vigil on Injured Reserve. Then during the game both Vontaze Burfict and Jordan Evans were forced out of the game with injuries. Burfict hurt his shoulder making a tackle, and Evans suffered an apparent concussion after Burfict collided with him while the two were attempting to make a tackle.

This left Vincent Rey and Hardy Nickerson as the two major linebackers against the Lions, and they helped hold the Lions to only one first down on their final two drives of the game.

The Bengals also suffered a couple injuries on the back end of the defense when Shawn Williams and Clayton Fejedelem both exited the game in the second half leaving the Bengals with only George Iloka and Josh Shaw at safety.

The Bengals ragtag group of defenders had some help toward the end of the game as well. A penalty helped push the Lions back inside their 20-yard line, a late pass to Golden Tate was ruled incomplete. It was questionable enough that it could’ve warranted a coach's challenge, but Jim Caldwell chose to save the potential time out and hope his team could get a three-and-out.

William Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick were really the stars of the game. They helped stop a very potent passing attack in its tracks. They held Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. to only six catches for 64 yards and no touchdowns. The two players were targeted 11 times. The defense also held Matthew Stafford to a 54 percent pass completion for the day. He had completed at least 75 percent of his passes the previous three games.

One area the Bengals improved was covering running backs out of the backfield. Theo Riddick caught three passes for 23 yards. Most of those yards came on a 14 yard play. This is a huge kudos to the linebackers who are usually responsible for this. Although they did let Eric Ebron pick on them catching five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Still someone on the Lions offense had to have a decent game. You can’t stop everyone.

After the Bengals gave up two 30 point games to their opponents, it seemed like we were in line for more of the same with the Lions coming to town with a playoff berth on the line. The way this defense stepped up to the challenge in the second half was really remarkable though, and hopefully some of that carries over to next season.