The Bengals defeated the Colts in dramatic fashion in Week 1, stifling Andrew Luck’s bid at a great storyline in his long-awaited return to the lineup. With the victory, Cincinnati had a number of players and specific instances that stood out the most in the performance.
Cast your vote and sound off on your winners of each of our weekly awards!
Most Valuable Player:
Andy Dalton: As usual, a quarterback lands on the MVP list. However, there is more than meets the eye here. It wasn’t the most productive or pretty of performances by Dalton, but he led the team to an improbable comeback and nailed some clutch throws down the stretch.
He finished 21-of-28 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. However, perhaps the most important play by No. 14 was an effort-filled chase-down of Kenny Moore II after a very early interception to save a pick-six.
Joe Mixon: The Bengals’ starting back had a great day against Indianapolis. He had 17 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown on the ground, coupled with five catches for 54 yards.
His effort on the day might have been at the highest level of any Bengals player on the team. Yes, he took advantage of some nice running lanes, but also created many opportunities with his combination of shiftiness and power.
Randy Bullock: For reasons both justifiable and overblown, Bengals fans have long clamored for a young, long-term solution at kicker. However, Cincinnati’s brain trust made the unpopular decision to keep Bullock once again in 2018.
In a game full of ebbs and flows, as well as lead changes, Cincinnati needed their kicker to come huge and he did. Bullock was 4-of-4 on extra points and 2-of-2 on field goal attempts, accumulating 10 total points.
Carlos Dunlap: Though the Bengals’ pass-rush was inconsistent on Sunday, it gained some steam in the second half. Dunlap was a big reason for it, getting a sack (with one other called back from penalty), two tackles and a pass defended.
Also, this is a penalty in today’s NFL, apparently:
This was called roughing the passer. Carlos Dunlap was just flagged for this play. Yes, the referee threw a flag. pic.twitter.com/SSNLi7guDZ— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) September 9, 2018
Clayton Fejedelem: The Bengals’ second-year safety had a big day after being pressed into extensive action because of Shawn Williams’ ejection. While Andrew Luck had a nice statistical day, sometimes at the expense of Fejedelem, the young defensive back made a number of nice plays.
He had the game-deciding play with a strip, recovery and 83-yard return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but also had 10 total tackles.
Who gets your vote for the Bengals’ Week 1 MVP?
This poll is closed
QB Andy Dalton
RB Joe Mixon
K Randy Bullock
DE Carlos Dunlap
DB Clayton Fejedelem
Unsung Hero of the Week:
In case you’re new around these parts, the “Unsung Hero of the Week” moniker usually goes to a player whose contributions go overlooked. Sometimes it’s in an ancillary player on one of the units, or it’s in a star linemen who do the dirty work in the trenches.
A.J. Green: Usually, a Pro Bowl receiver with nearly 100 receiving yards and a big touchdown would automatically go into our MVP group. However, Green had two fumbles (one lost) that marred his day.
He was still one of the best players on the field, but a roller coaster of a day may have some overlooking his contributions. Green finished with six receptions for 92 yards, including the big 38-yard score.
Tyler Boyd: The third-year wideout might be the poster boy for this award. He continues to be a guy who, more or less, quietly moves the sticks, as evidenced by his three catches for 26 yards on Sunday.
However, it was in the “hustle plays” that Boyd should get a nod. Of Green’s two fumbles, he nearly recovered the first that Indianapolis pounced on, but was Johnny-on-the-spot with five and a half minutes left after Green showed carelessness again. Because of his effort, the Bengals were able to kick a critical field goal.
Cordy Glenn: When you don’t hear an offensive lineman’s name, that’s often a good thing. Mixon had his great day, partially because Glenn was opening some lanes, but he was also stout in pass protection. Of the two sacks the Bengals allowed on the afternoon, Glenn wasn’t responsible for either.
Preston Brown: Look, it wasn’t a perfect day from the free agent linebacker, but he had a gigantic play early in the game. Dalton threw a pick and put the defense in a hole, but Brown grabbed a much-needed interception of his own to eliminate the possibility for any Colts points.
Geno Atkins: Another quietly-productive day at the office from one of the teams’ recipients of a summer contract. The All-Pro finished with four total tackles and a sack of Luck.
Nick Vigil: It wasn’t a banner day for the Bengals’ defense, but Vigil came up on numerous occasions. He had 11 tackles, two of them for a loss, and had a near interception.
Who gets your vote for the Bengals’ "Unsung Hero of the Week" versus the Colts?
This poll is closed
WR A.J. Green
WR Tyler Boyd
OT Cordy Glenn
LB Preston Brown
DT Geno Atkins
LB Nick Vigil
Play of the game:
Though it was a frustrating game at certain points for the Cincinnati Bengals, they had their fair share of big plays. These huge momentum-swingers helped pave the path to a much-needed victory. Which was the biggest in the team’s 34-23 win?
Preston Brown’s first quarter interception: The Bengals got the ball first, and many wondered how their first possession would go. Well, on the second play of the drive, Dalton sailed a screen pass high and threw an interception that was almost returned for a touchdown.
Fortunately for the Bengals, their defense bailed them out big-time. While taking advantage of both rust and nerves from Luck in his first start in over a year, Brown made a gigantic play. Brown intercepted an errant Luck pass deep in their own territory, thus allowing the team to get the ball back unscathed.
pResTon bROwn dOESn’T mAke biG pLAys pic.twitter.com/iDbrF00vgK— Dadio McDuck (@dadiodefacto) September 9, 2018
John Ross’s three-yard touchdown reception: In one single play in his second season, Ross surpassed two of his paltry rookie numbers in important categories. On a beautiful fade route, Dalton hit Ross in stride to cut the Colts’ second-quarter lead to 13-10.
There are a couple of encouraging things to note with this play. First, even though this was the only play he made on Sunday, he is going to be counted on this year. Second, even though he’s known as a “speedy deep threat,” he showed he can be effective in short areas of the field for big plays.
A.J. Green’s 38-yard touchdown catch: It was an up-and-down day from the Pro Bowl wideout, but he atoned for a couple of mistakes with an electric touchdown. Needing a spark because of a 13-point deficit in the second half, Green’s number was called, and he stepped up.
Dalton floated a beautiful throw to him in which Green made a tumbling catch for the score. This touchdown brought the game back into reach, and the Bengals took advantage.
Joe Mixon’s one-yard touchdown run: In what was essentially a culmination of a number of huge plays by the second-year back, Mixon’s one-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter gave the team a lead that they never relented.
The play was creative, given Sam Hubbard’s lead block, at least as creative as one-yard runs can come. Still, Mixon’s effort was potentially the highest of any Bengals player all afternoon and it showed on this very important scoring play.
Sam Hubbard leads the way and Joe Mixon ties the game. Randy Bullocks extra point makes it 24-23 Bengals pic.twitter.com/qXfh20lwaC— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) September 9, 2018
Clayton Fejedelem’s forced fumble, recovery and 83-yard return for a touchdown: Well, we think this one could very well be the front-runner. After Williams’ ejection from the game, Fejedelem was relied upon in the secondary.
While he was part of a group who let up a number of plays in front of him, Fejedelem ended up having one of the biggest plays by a Bengal in some time. On a third-and-15, Luck hit Jack Doyle on what looked like a first down with about 40 seconds to play. The second-year safety stripped the ball, scooped it up and ran 83 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.
What gets your vote for the Bengals’ play of the week versus the Colts?
This poll is closed
Preston Brown’s first quarter interception
John Ross’s 3-yard touchdown reception
A.J. Green’s 38-yard touchdown reception
Joe Mixon’s 1-yard touchdown run
Clayton Fejedelem’s forced fumble and 83-yard recovery touchdown