Just when you think you know everything there is to know about these Bengals, you realize you really don’t know anything at all.
Cincinnati finished 2017 the way that everyone hoped, but very few people expected they would. And here are four things that I found out along the journey to the Bengals’ seventh and final win of 2017.
The Bengals never gave up
These guys never gave up, even when the rest of us did.
What can you say about the Bengals’ 31-27 win over the Ravens and finish to the year? That is as good as it gets, and what a way to end the 2017 season. The only thing that would have been better would be if the Bengals were playing for something. But it seems like playing for pride is all we’ve got, and this team dug deep and found plenty of it during the last two games.
Dalton had the last word
Andy Dalton came into the game with lots of pundits calling for an end to the Dalton-Green era in Cincinnati.
Forget about all of that. Dalton drove the Bengals from their own 10-yard line to midfield with less than a minute to play. Then, facing fourth-and-12, he fired a bullet to Tyler Boyd over the middle that Boyd turned into an incredible touchdown that pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.
Dalton finished with 23 completions on 44 attempts for 222 yards and three touchdowns and an overall rating of 89.4. And he was actually better than that, but had a couple of passes dropped and a couple of others that should have been caught on the sidelines and were not.
He wasn’t perfect, but he helped the Bengals win their final game of 2017.
Dunlap will always step up
The Bengals’ defense went nearly the whole game without putting any pressure on Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco. Then, with the game on the line, Dunlap burst through the line untouched and sacked Flacco for a nine-yard loss on second-and-five. The Ravens never recovered, and a fourth-down pass to tight end Benjamin Watson fell one yard short of a first down.
Rey is a warrior
Two weeks ago, Vinny Rey took a shot to the jaw that resulted in a mouth full of stitches. Last week, some of those stitches got ripped out. But he never missed a beat.
This week, Rey went down with an apparent back injury, and it looked like the Bengals were down to a pair of undrafted free agent rookies in Hardy Nickerson, Jr. and Brandon Bell. But Rey was not to be denied.
Rey only missed one play, and came back in to continue battling. He went down a few more times, but refused to sit out. With the Ravens facing a third-and-14 at their own 27-yard-line, Flacco went Rey’s direction on a pass intended for Mike Wallace, and Rey broke it up.
Then, on fourth-and-14 with the Ravens down to their last gasp, it was Rey who tackled Watson short of the first down marker and sealed the win. Rey led both teams in tackles with 10.