After a somber Week 14, Bengals fans can reluctantly rejoice after Cincinnati clinched another playoff berth with a win against the 49ers. It wasn't the easiest road to their fifth straight postseason appearance, as the offense sometime sputtered under backup quarterback AJ McCarron, but he and the rest of the team made enough plays to get the Bengals their 11th win of 2015.
We've gone through the best plays of the week and the MVP nominees, so now it's time to give the nod to some of the lesser-heralded Bengals players from Week 15. Cast your vote and sound off on your winner for the Unsung Hero of the Week award!
LB Rey Maualuga: Vontaze Burfict made the more exciting plays on Sunday, but Maualuga was a constant presence in the run game, delivering big hits on backs right around the line of scrimmage. Burfict's return over a month ago has helped everyone on defense, perhaps nobody more than Maualuga, who finished with 10 total tackles.
CB Adam Jones: In his return after missing last week's Steelers game, Jones made his presence felt with an interception off a bobbled pass to Vance McDonald. The play didn't net the Bengals any points, but Jones was part of a Bengals defense that didn't allow any San Francisco receivers to reach 75 yards, even when the 49ers offense was in catch-up mode.
WR Marvin Jones: The team's No. 2 wide receiver was the leading receiver on Sunday with four catches for 89 yards, including a 47-yard beauty. Jones stepped up nicely with A.J. Green hobbled by a tweaked back and Tyler Eifert sitting with concussion issues.
DT Domata Peko: The guy who was left for dead by so many Bengals fans this offseason has responded with one of the best seasons he's had as a pro. On Sunday, he notched a career-high fifth sack, to go with three tackles--one of which was a stop right at the line of the line of scrimmage on the 49ers' first drive.
K Mike Nugent: After a short stretch of struggles, Nugent has really steadied himself and this team. He nailed a critical field goal in the third quarter, to go along with three extra points on Sunday.
S Shawn Williams: The backup safety stepped in for the injured George Iloka and had one of the most critical plays of the game. In the fourth quarter, Blaine Gabbert had the 49ers driving to get his team closer, but Williams stepped in front of a pass in the end zone and intercepted it to essentially end the game. He added four total tackles on the afternoon. Williams may be one of the most improved Bengals of 2015.