It was hard to ask for a better start to the 2015 season by the Cincinnati Bengals. They swarmed, frustrated and dominated every facet of the game against the Oakland Raiders and came away as 33-13 victors. Any number of players could have received the coveted "game ball" which coaches give out after wins, so we're doing our best not to leave anyone out in the cold.
The "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" is one of our weekly specials to honor Bengals players who did well in a more behind-the-scenes type of way. Be sure to check out our MVP candidates and vote for that award as well. Cast your vote and sound off on your winner for the Unsung Hero of Week 1 below!
Giovani Bernard, RB: After struggling in the preseason and early in this game, Bernard really shot off to a great finish while using his versatility. He had as many rushing yards as Jeremy Hill (63) on 10 less carries and added six catches for 25 yards. He really frustrated a tired Raiders' defense as the afternoon wore on.
A.J. Green, WR: Yes, the touchdown drop was ugly. Hideous, in fact. Still, Green made his best effort to atone for the mistake with some other catches with hard-fought yards after the catch and finished with five catches for 63 yards, including a nice 30-yarder.
Mike Nugent, K: The veteran kicker had a nice day, even though he did have one of those new extended extra points blocked. He accounted for nine total points, including two field goals. On the few occasions drives stalled out, mostly in the second half, getting points from Nugent after he sat out most of the preseason, was a welcomed sight.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB: In his first game as a true starter (he got the nod before, but only due to injuries), Kirkpatrick played pretty well. He was mostly responsible for Michael Crabtree on the day, and the veteran receiver only did any kind of damage in the second half. Crabtree was limited to 37 receiving yards and no Raiders receiver cracked 50 yards on the afternoon.
Carlos Dunlap, DE: The defensive front was stout on Sunday, allowing just 63 total yards rushing. Dunlap had two tackles and a sack, while frustrating both Derek Carr and Matt McGloin all afternoon.
Vincent Rey, LB: The backup filling in for Vontaze Burfict just keeps getting things done. The entire defense kept everything in front of them, allowing minimal gains on almost every Raiders offensive play. Rey had nine total tackles and also contributed on special teams.
The Offensive Line: Though there were a couple of holding penalties from the interior of the line, the group was pretty solid on Sunday. They didn't allow a sack and paved the way for 127 rushing yards.