Coming off of their second consecutive win, the Bengals are back in playoff contention. The team that struggled through a four game skid now finds themselves 5-5 as they head into Week 12. After the NFL talking heads and fans had all but counted Cincinnati out for the season, the team came back with a vengeance in week 10 and haven’t looked back.
The Bengals were 3-5 when they entered the game against the New York Giants two weeks ago. They had dropped their previous four games to teams with losing records and hope seemed lost in the Queen City. In the only game of the season, to that point, that wasn’t sold out, Cincinnati got a decisive win over the defending Super Bowl Champs.
NFL fans were split over the victory. Was the win a fluke or had the Bengals really corrected their on-field issues? When they took the field in Kansas City the next week, their questions were answered. The play calling was aggressive. They went for it on fourth down, faked punts, and ran the ball right through the heart of the Chiefs’ defense.
Andy Dalton had another no-interception game. The quarterback threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns, finishing the game with a 109.8 passer rating. BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 25 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. Cedric Peerman padded the rushing game with eight carries and 75 yards of his own. A.J. Green picked up 91 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. Jermaine Gresham led the charge with Green, catching six balls for 69 yards and Mohamed Sanu got his second NFL touchdown.
The Cincinnati defense only allowed 284 total yards. Pacman Jones, Geno Atkins, and Michael Johnson all recorded one quarterback sack in the victory, while the defense picked up six quarterback hits. The defense came up so big that Kansas City switched-out field generals to start the second half of play. Though, Brady Quinn showed much more promise than Matt Cassel for the 1-6 Chiefs, he was still no match for Cincinnati’s D.
Now with back to back stellar performances by both the offense and defense, the NFL is abuzz about the Bengals and their play off potential. Not only is the team sitting atop those teams “in the hunt”, but they got a little help from their friends in week 11. The Colts, with a wild card bid if the season ended today, dropped a big game to the Patriots on Sunday, bringing their record to just one win better than the Bengals at 6-4.
Aiding Cincinnati’s playoff hunt even more, the injury laden Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their last game to the Baltimore Ravens. Their new 6-4 record after the loss means more than just the number implies. After news of both their starting and second string quarterbacks going down with rib injuries, the team is starting their third string QB on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Then they head to Baltimore to take on the Ravens for the second time in three weeks. The Steelers are in a bad situation that has early implications of turning into a good situation for the Bengals.
Of course, even if the Steelers were to drop their next two games, Cincinnati would still have to pull out wins in their upcoming match ups to stay in the hunt. On paper, that shouldn’t be an issue for the Bengals. However, in Cincinnati, fans know never to expect the team to win the “easy ones”. If they stay on the streak they are on, though, they should be able to get wins over their their future opponents.
It is nice to be talking about the Bengals in a positive light again. It is even better to talk and to hear others talk about the team and the playoffs in the same sentence. With the right combination of Bengals wins and other team’s losses, Cincinnati may go where they have never gone before; Back to back playoff appearances.
Tags: A.J. Green Adam Jones AFC Andy Dalton Bengals BenJarvus Green-Ellis Brady Quinn Cedric Peerman Cincinnati Cincinnati Bengals Geno Atkins Jermaine Gresham Matt Cassel Michael Johnson Mohamed Sanu NFL Pacman Jones