Wins the like one that the Cincinnati Bengals captured last Sunday creates one of those "good problems" for us a Cincy Jungle. In posts like these where we honor players that did their jobs so well, it forces us to come up with a plethora of names to kick around. Like I said--a good problem.
We already laid out our MVP nominations on Tuesday, so it's time to credit the guys who also did their job well, but with less fanfare than some others. It wouldn't be far-fetched to have the feeling that these names could have also been in that MVP race for the week.
Here are our nominees for the Bengals Week Two "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" for their performances against the Atlanta Falcons.
Andre Smith, OT: In last week's UHOTW, we nominated Andrew Whitworth, not only for his individual performance, but also for the overall play of the offensive line. The same could be said this week with Smith's nomination. Zero penalties against him, zero sacks on Andy Dalton, along with 164 yards and two touchdowns on the ground between two running backs points to his and the rest of the line's performance. Smith also lost his partner on the right side in guard Kevin Zeitler, but that didn't stop him from being productive. One of the favorite plays of the day had to be when Smith shuffled over to left guard on Hill's goal line touchdown run.
Terence Newman, CB: The grizzled veteran just keeps playing solid football for the Bengals. Some fans worried about Newman's ability to cover and tackle the explosive Falcons receivers, but he was extremely impressive on the day. No receivers cracked 90 yards through the air and Newman broke up three passes with extremely physical play at corner. Almost every defensive back had a great day and Newman was no exception, especially as the team's leading tackler.
Leon Hall, CB: Wasn't this guy supposed to be ineffective because of his second Achilles injury last year? Not only did he make another amazing comeback, he has been extremely effective. Hall helps on the outside, but has become extremely valuable covering the slot--be it against tight ends or wideouts. This week, Hall made a tide-turning, diving interception off of a tipped pass from Vontaze Burfict. He had six total tackles and limited the damage from the lethal Atlanta passing game.
Mohamed Sanu, WR: I usually hate to nominate a player for both the MVP and the UHOTW awards, but Sanu truly embodied what this award was about on Sunday. Aside from being a highly-effective player in the offense, he stepped up with three major offensive weapons out of the game. It's performances like Sanu's that prove that the Bengals have assembled a very deep team.
Reggie Nelson, S: What did I say about this guy last week? He could be nominated for this award every week, it seems. Once again, Nelson had a solid game with four total tackles, a sack and was part of that secondary that eliminated any big-time damage by the Falcons. Nelson's performance was overshadowed by his counterpart, George Iloka on Sunday.
Carlos Dunlap, DE: This young man has developed into a very well-rounded defensive end. On Sunday, Dunlap did a little bit of everything, as he had a sack, a pass defensed and two total tackles. He is one of the only Bengals pass-rushers to get pressure without blitzes and was a valuable contributor against Atlanta.
Kevin Huber, P/Dre Kirkpatrick, CB: I normally don't group guys together, but these two were in sync on Sunday. When the Bengals offense stalled a handful of times, they relied on Huber's leg four times at a 41-yard average. Two of the four were pinned deep in Falcons territory, making their lives miserable on those subsequent offensive drives. The guy who downed those punts deep? Well, that would be third-year cornerback, Dre Kirkpatrick. The much-maligned defensive back has become a very solid gunner on punt coverages and it's been noticeable throughout the first two weeks.
Who gets your vote for the Bengals Week Two "Unsung Hero of the Week Award"?