Cincinnati Bengals Will Have to Beat Indianapolis Colts Without A.J. Green


Dec 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) lays on the field after suffering an apparent injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cincinnati Bengals played the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 7 of the 2014 NFL season, receiver A.J. Green was on the shelf with a toe injury.  In that game, a 27-0 loss, the Bengals managed just 103 yards through the air.  According to ESPN’s Coley Harvey, the Bengals will face a similar challenge when the teams meet in the AFC Wild Card round tomorrow, as Green has been ruled out due to a concussion suffered last week.  

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Green sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On the season, Green has missed four games, and the Bengals are 2-1-1 in those contests.  The difference between this game against the Colts and the blowout on October 19 is that the Bengals ran for just 32 yards in that earlier match-up but are expected to focus heavily on the rushing game this time around.

The reason that Cincinnati feels confident about its running game heading to Indianapolis is rookie RB Jeremy Hill, who broke out two weeks after the first Colts tilt.  In a game at home on November 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Hill ran 24 times for 154 yards and served notice that he could handle the pounding that featured backs must withstand in the NFL.

Since then, Hill has put up four 100-yard games in eight starts, and three of those efforts yielded more than 140 yards.

So, the Bengals have reason for optimism, but the Colts know that Cincinnati will lean heavily on Hill if they can.  Indy will try to stuff Hill and backfield mate Giovani Bernard early to force the game into quarterback Andy Dalton’s hands.

That could be dangerous territory for the Bengals without Dalton’s favorite target, A.J. Green.