After the Bengals suffered a heartbreaking loss in week 14 to the Dallas Cowboys, the team knew that a win in every upcoming matchup was crucial. What they got in week 15 was much more.
Cincinnati went on the road to Philadelphia to face the Eagles on Thursday Night Football. Though, the offense’s play on the field was nothing short of offensive, the Bengals got the big win in the end. The defense proved to be the Bengals best weapon, in a game where Cincinnati finished off the Eagles 34-13.
After Cincinnati did their job, the team was forced to sit back and watch as the playoffs either came right to do their doorstep or more hurdles were thrown in their way. Luckily for the Bengals, their friends in the AFC North came through to give the team a little boost moving through the final stretch of the season.
In the early games, the Baltimore Ravens played host to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. The Ravens had been on a two game skid and were desperately looking to turn things around at home. Denver was hearing none of their sob story though. The Broncos shut the Ravens out in the first half of the game and dominated the home team throughout the matchup. The final score was 34-17 in favor of the Broncos.
Though the Ravens were able to clinch a playoff berth, even with their loss, the team lost their footing in the tight AFC North. With the loss, Baltimore is now 9-5. That is just one game better than the 8-6 Bengals in the division, opening the door for Cincinnati to swoop in and take the title from the Ravens. If Baltimore were to lose their fourth in a row next week and Cincinnati gets the win over Pittsburgh, the Ravens and the Bengals will battle it out for the division title in the last game of the regular season.
In the later slate of games, the Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Dallas to go head to head with the Cowboys in week 15 action. In Big Ben’s second game back from injury, the quarterback looked to be back to his old self. Roethlisberger was jumping around in the pocket and making tough throws, keeping plays alive. The game was a shootout, right into overtime where the Cowboys came up big on a Big Ben interception that led to the final three points of the game. The final score was 27-24, with the Cowboys coming out on top.
With the Steelers loss, the Bengals moved a full game ahead of Pittsburgh and take over the last playoff spot in the AFC. Their loss also boosts Cincinnati above Pittsburgh in the AFC North, placing the Bengals in second place behind Baltimore. The Steelers and the Bengals face off next week in a divisional matchup that has playoffs written all over it. The winner of that game will seal up the Wild Card berth, while the loser will be sent home to think about next season.
By now, we all know the implications for the Bengals and all of their matchups. The road is still not easy, but the cushion that the Ravens and the Steelers provided on Sunday should be enough to keep Cincinnati rolling through the next two weeks. Their destiny may still not be certain, but their hope is more alive than ever.