Week 16 seemed to set up as nicely for an AJ McCarron-led Cincinnati Bengals team as possible, but when it came to the team doing their own job, they didn't make it happen. The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Baltimore Ravens to give the Bengals a division crown, while the New England Patriots lost to the New York Jets opening up the possibility for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
But, as they have done so many times in their history, Cincinnati just couldn't get it done on a big stage against the Denver Broncos. Regardless, they put together an admirable effort, spearheaded by a number of solid individual performances. Cast your vote for the Bengals' Week 16 Most Valuable Player award and sound off on your winner!
DE Carlos Dunlap: The big defensive end broke the single-season franchise record for quarterback sacks in a single season on Monday night, with three of Brock Osweiler. His 13.5 is now the Bengals' standard in the category, and Dunlap recorded three additional tackles on the evening. While Denver ended up putting up some yards in the second half, the veteran defensive end helped to keep the game in control as the defense got gassed late.
QB AJ McCarron: While he had the critical fumble to end the game, McCarron largely played well against the top defense in the NFL. He didn't throw a pick and was nearly impeccable in the first half, leading the team to what should have been three scoring drives. McCarron was particularly effective on third down and finished with 200 passing yards and a touchdown.
WR A.J. Green: Even though Green made an egregious mistake by briefly quitting on a route that could have been a touchdown, he made some incredible catches along the sideline and in the end zone. He finished with five catches for 57 yards and the score.
DE Michael Johnson: As has been the case for most of 2015, Dunlap and Geno Atkins have received all of the attention on the defensive line, but Johnson has been a solid contributor, too. Technically, Johnson provided what should have been the biggest play of the game with a fourth quarter forced fumble on C.J. Anderson, but the offense failed to take advantage. MJ90 also finished with six total tackles.
WR Mohamed Sanu: With Hue Jackson looking to get creative and take heat off of McCarron, he looked at his Swiss Army Knife. Sanu ran two straight wildcat plays for 10 yards and a rushing touchdown, while also adding three catches for 29 yards--one of which was a 20-yard catch on a third and long situation.