We at Cincy Jungle, as well as Bengals fans everywhere, are eager to turn the page on the nightmare at Paul Brown Stadium that was Week 14 against the Steelers. Still, to do the team and our readers proper justice, we are running through our weekly award features, with this one focusing on some of the background contributors.
Cast your vote for the Week 14 "Unsung Hero of the Week" and sound off on your selection in the comments below!
RB Giovani Bernard: The versatile back contributed in multiple facets as he has done all season long. He only had six carries, but recorded 40 rushing yards on the afternoon, pushing seven yards per carry. He added another nine yards per reception with 27 receiving yards on three catches, but those two facets weren't his only contributions. Even though the pass protection wasn't stellar on Sunday, Bernard chipped in with taking on blockers--another area he's continuously excelled at in 2015.
WR Marvin Jones: The unfortunate thing about being a receiver on the Cincinnati Bengals is that your counterpart is A.J. Green. That being the case, Jones seems to be a weekly "Unsung Hero" nominee, while Green continuously gets the MVP nod. Even with the quarterback issues, Jones had six catches for 61 yards, including a 23-yarder.
TE Tyler Kroft: Part of the criteria for this award is being a player who steps up in the wake of injury. While Tyler Eifert has been outstanding this season, his injury history has begun to rear its ugly head once again in 2015. Kroft stepped in and grabbed two catches for 31 yards, with another 12-yarder nullified by a holding penalty. He also blocked when asked, which falls into the "dirty work" category--another one of the criteria we look at with the Unsung Heroes.
DE Michael Johnson: Though he signed a big contract to return to the Bengals this offseason, one could argue Johnson is the least-talked about lineman of the four regular starters. He hasn't put up the big stats, but MJ90 has quietly been a staple holding the defensive front together. He had a sack of Ben Roethlisberger and three total tackles.
LB Rey Maualuga: Vontaze Burfict got the lion's share of the attention going into the 2015 rematch, but Maualuga had a pretty solid game himself. Sure he wasn't covering players often and there were the Rey-standard over-pursuits at times, but Maualuga helped to take away DeAngelo Williams as a threat on the ground. He had seven total tackles, tying Dre Kirkpatrick as second-highest on the afternoon to Burfict.
S Reggie Nelson: Had the Bengals' pass defense not struggled so much on third downs, Nelson might have received one of our MVP nominations. Cincinnati kept Ben Roethlisberger out of the end zone, partially stopping a hot streak from the future Hall of Fame quarterback. He had yet another interception of Roethlisberger, his eighth interception of the year, and four total tackles.
K Mike Nugent: Though his miss was bad, it wasn't so much about him missing a kick, but the morale lowering that ensued after it. Even with the miss, Nugent had eight of the Bengals' 20 points, kicking both 46 and 27-yard field goals.