Nov 2, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) carries the ball during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 33-23. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Entering Sunday’s games at Paul Brown Stadium, the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars were two flawed teams, each looking to make good on an opportunity to pick up a cheap win at the other’s expense. Thanks to a career day by rookie running back Jeremy Hill, the Bengals came out on top of a fairly ugly contest, 33-23.
Although Cincinnati led for most of the game, Jacksonville kept pulling themselves back into the contest, thanks as much to Bengals’ gaffes as to the Jags’ own prowess. In particular, quarterback Andy Dalton threw two interceptions, including a late pick that the Jaguars used to bring the score to 26-23 with a little over eight minutes remaining in the game.
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On the next play from scrimmage, though, Hill broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run that pretty much killed the Jaguars’ hopes.
The Bengals came into the game without leading rusher Giovani Bernard, who is out with a hip pointer and will likely miss at least one more game. That Hill was able to pick up the slack and then some is especially remarkable because everyone in the building knew that the LSU product would be the main man on the ground for Cincinnati today. Even though he missed part of the game with a knee injury, Hill came back to rack up the most yards by a Bengals’ RB in five years, according to the ESPN.com game account.
With 154 yards on the day, Hill easily topped his previous career best of 74, set in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. Even without the 60-yard TD run, Hill would have racked up 94 yards for 4.1 yards per carry.
This week, the Bengals have a short turnaround as they host the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, so nailing down the victory today was important as the AFC North standings tighten up. With the 30th ranked run defense entering today’s action, Cleveland presents an inviting target for Hill to continue asserting himself as a legitimate big-yardage NFL back. If he can make strides against the Browns, we might have a “running back controversy” on our hands in a couple of weeks.
Wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have?