Nov 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) runs the ball during the first half against the New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals defeated the Giants 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

A Giant Step or Just a Mirage for the Bengals


On the heels of a four game skid, many Cincinnati fans had thrown in the towel before the game had even begun. The stadium did not sell out for the first time this season, causing the game to be blacked-out locally per NFL rules. Of the seats that were sold for the game, the sea of blue jerseys in the stands made the atmosphere feel more like an away game for the home team Bengals.

Once the stripes took the field, though, all heads turned in Paul Brown Stadium. New York came into Cincinnati on Sunday and got a Giant surprise. The then 3-5 Bengals turned the tables on the G-Men who were heavily favored coming into the game. After a few Manning turnovers and poor play by the Giants’ defense, the Bengals sent the Giants packing with another loss, taking their season record to 6-4.

In the first six minutes of the game, Andy Dalton had thrown two touchdowns and Cincinnati was already up 14-0 against the defending Super Bowl Champions. There were a lot of contributing factors that led to this quick start. The Bengals defense held strong and only allowed the Giants offense 9 yards on their first possession of the game. Then Adam “PacMan” Jones ran a punt return back to the Giants 11 yard line on a 68 yard return.

None of those feats were sweeter, though, than A.J. Green’s 70 receiving yards and touchdown in the Bengals opening possession. After a week where the quiet Green found himself the center of controversy with the Giants defense, nothing was more gratifying for him or the Bengals’ fans than to watch the young receiver attack the G-Men where it hurt. He single handedly pointed out New York’s holes that he supposedly called out earlier in the week. Instead of “ducking” out of the way of Antrel Rolle, the Giants safety couldn’t keep up with the future of the NFL.

After the Bengals went up by 14 points, there was no stopping them. Even after a big fumble on their own 27 yard line on a kickoff return by Brandon Tate, the defense remained stout and only allowed the Giants a field goal. The defense came up with big stops throughout the game.

The entire Cincinnati team came together and played the game the way everyone in the stands had been waiting to see all year long. Andy Dalton threw for 199 yards, 4 touchdowns, and for the first time this season, 0 interceptions. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was still a non-factor, running 15 times for 50 yards. Green had seven receptions for 85 yards and one touchdown, while Mohamed Sanu had four receptions and his first NFL receiving touchdown.

On the defensive side of the ball, Wallace Gilberry and Carlos Dunlap each had one fumble recovery. Nate Clements and Pat Sims got in on the action, each with one interception from Manning. The defense finished the game with four sacks, one quarterback hit, and seven deflected passes. This was the best and most complete game that the struggling Cincinnati defense had played so far this season.

The Bengals went on to win the game 31-13, begging the question; where did this team come from? Was this just a good match-up or did they finally find their groove? Eli Manning is in a slump and many are saying he is playing with a tired arm, but he is still Eli Manning and the Giants are still defending Super Bowl Champions. Were the G-Men just lucky last season and this season or have the Bengals just been holding out?

Is this a mirage for the win-starved fans in Cincinnati or has this team had a breakthrough to their full potential? Bengals fans have been waiting for this win. After a fairly successful training camp, everyone in football speculated that the team would be sitting atop the AFC North. Then the season started and the Bengals went 3-1. Though, the wins weren’t always pretty, they were still getting the job done.

As the team dropped the next four, though, hope was gone. The struggles of the defense had finally caught up to the team as the offense started to struggle. Andy Dalton plummeted in the ranks of NFL quarterbacks, throwing interceptions in every game this season. Then there was BJGE, who couldn’t get through a defensive line to save his life. The team looked like the same old Bengals that fans had come to know in recent years.

Now the team comes out with a big win over a big play team and the world is left scratching their heads. The Bengals did look good for those that were able to see the game. It brought a little hope back to the Cincinnati faithful, but is it just setting fans up for another round of disappointment? No one knows what the future will hold, but it sure feels good to be a Bengals fan this week.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: A.J. Green Adam Jones Adam Pacman Jones AFC AFC North Andrew Hawkins Andy Dalton Antrel Rolle Bengals BenJarvus Green-Ellis BJGE Brandon Tate Carlos Dunlap Cincinnati Cincinnati Bengals Eli Manning G-Men Giants Marvin Lewis Mohamed Sanu Nate Clements New York New York Giants NFL Pac Man Pacman Pacman Jones Pat Sims Paul Brown Stadium The Law Firm Wallace Gilberry