Even though there were struggles from the Bengals in the season opener against the Jets, there were also many outstanding individual performances. In truth, it was a difficult week to discern the MVP candidates from those who ended up being nominated for the Unsung Hero of the Week.
In case you're new around these parts, there are a number of different criteria we use to create our nominees. Whether it's a starter whose performance flew a bit under the radar, or a player who stepped in admirably for a starter, many factors are considered. Cast your vote and sound off on your winner for the Unsung Hero of the Week in the Bengals' 23-22 win over the Jets!
Brandon LaFell, Wide Receiver: Whoever the Bengals were going to bring in at wide receiver this offseason had some big shoes to fill with the vacancies left by Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. Skepticism surrounded the addition of LaFell because of his subpar 2015 campaign with the Patriots, but he was a great complement to A.J. Green in Week 1. He finished with four catches for 91 yards in his Bengals debut, with two of the catches looming large as third down conversions. His yardage total in one game with Cincinnati would have been his second-best output with New England last year, so long-term optimism is now replacing the skepticism.
C.J. Uzomah, Tight End: With Tyler Eifert still recovering from offseason ankle surgery, two second-year players needed to step up at the tight end position. Tyler Kroft returned to the lineup, so many assumed he would be the starter, but the team prefered to rely on the athletic Uzomah. He stepped up in a big way with two catches for 59 yards, including a 54-yard catch-and-run to set the Bengals up with their first points on the afternoon, a field goal, just a few players later after two unsuccessful additional passes thrown Uzomah's way.
Margus Hunt, Defensive End: There are a couple of Bengals players who consistently draw fan criticism and the fourth-year defensive lineman is one of them. With so many injuries along the line, Hunt was under the spotlight as a rotating contributor in the opener. He made big plays on special teams and defense, including a gigantic blocked field goal attempt and a tackle for loss.
Josh Shaw, Defensive Back: The versatile youngster had his ups and downs on Sunday, but the positives definitely outweighed the negative. He finished with three total tackles, one of which was a huge one on a third down as the Jets were looking to get in the end zone to force the field goal attempt that was blocked by Hunt. As if that wasn't enough, Shaw had the game-clinching interception, which was the first of his career as he was stepping up for the injured Darqueze Dennard.