The Bengals are no strangers to come from behind victories, as three of their four wins this season have come late game heroics.
In their Week 5 game against the Dolphins, the Bengals were down 17-0 with a little more than a quarter and a half remaining in the game. Normally in this situation, the offense has to step up and win the game. However, the Bengals’ defense—more specifically the defensive line—put points on the board.
When Michael Johnson announced the Bengals’ third round draft pick this year, which ended up being Sam Hubbard, we never knew that both defensive ends would score two touchdowns that helped the Bengals go on a 27-0 run to seal an important game with playoff ramifications.
Hubbard’s first career touchdown could not have come at a better time. The Bengals were holding onto a three point lead late in the game and needed a stop. Carlos Dunlap responded by knocking the ball out of quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s hand. Hubbard collected it and took it 19 yards to the house.
“I was going for the ball,” said Dunlap. “I don’t want him to be able to throw it. He was trying to make a big play for his team. I made it that far and I wanted to finish the play off.”
Dunlap’s efforts in clutch situations are nothing new, and Hubbard experienced another instance of it firsthand.
“It’s really a credit to Carlos Dunlap,” Hubbard said. “He was chasing the quarterback down and hit the ball right into my lap. All I had to do was run straight.”
Between Hubbard’s touchdown, Johnson’s touchdown, and two sacks from Geno Atkins, the defensive line was the most valuable position group on the team. The defensive line outscored both teams offenses, scoring 14 points to the to the Bengals’ offense’s 13 and the Dolphins’ offense’s 10.
“It really started with Geno (Atkins) setting the tone, getting after them early,” said Hubbard. “And Coach (Jacob) Burney telling us to relax and have some fun and do what we do, and that is what we did in the second half.”
The Bengals have shown that they have no quit in them. Every week, a new hero emerges to win the game. Whether its Clayton Fejedelem, Shawn Williams, A.J. Green, Johnson, or Hubbard, the Bengals’ “never say die attitude” manifests itself.
“I think it’s contagious,” Hubbard continued. “We have a lot of veteran guys, a lot of guys that have played a lot of football here, and all they want to do is win. They are leading the way, and the young guys are feeding off of them. Everybody is staying up, and playing for each other.”
While Hubbard stepped up and put the game out of the Dolphins’ grasp, Marvin Lewis was still a mixed bag of emotions.
“From the Mark Waltons to the Sam Hubbards to Jessie (Bates),” said Lewis. “Look at the plays these guys made down the stretch today, and they’re rookies. We’ve got to feel really good about that. But at the same time, we’ve got some (mistakes) and some other things by rookies, too. We’ve got to eliminate those.”
Even with those mistakes, the rookies—and especially Hubbard—showed why the Bengals picked them in the draft. If this is their starting point, their primes are going to be amazing.