Aside from the well known talent of A.J. Green, Dalton’s receiving options are all but unknown in the NFL. Not for long, though. Andrew Hawkins has been making a name for himself by shredding defenses with his speed and his ability to find holes once free in enemy territory. Baby Hawk has already earned himself 247 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. While Armon Binns and Brandon Tate have been proven worthy of NFL play too, combining for 231 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns of their own in just 4 games this season.
Of course the rookie play of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu is nothing to dismiss either. Sanu currently holds a perfect passer rating after hitting A.J. Green for the long bomb to open the game in Washington D.C. and Jones has been seeing playing time and received his first NFL catch Sunday in Jacksonville. Add these talented receivers to the tough play of running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and you have a lethal combination on offense that could challenge any defense in the NFL today. These guys may not be mentioned with the best, but they know who they are and what they are capable of. They go after the hard play and their win-loss record proves it at 3-1.
No one has been accused of calling the Bengals defense great this year either, but they are making enough stops to help their team. The injuries have been crucial, but every man, no matter how he got there is stepping in and doing his job well. Yesterday what we saw in Jacksonville was the re-birth of a struggling defense. Though, the Jags offense was probably not the best we have faced this year, the guys stood up and took charge.
The defensive line that came into the game ranked 31st in the NFL against the run, held Maurice Jones-Drew who has been averaging just over 100 yards a game this season to just 38 rushing yards. They were able to sack Jacksonville quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, a total of 6 times and got pressure on him throughout the game. The injury laden backfield, though shaky, still held him to just 143 passing yards and 1 touchdown. No story is bigger than the interception that came from the recently re-signed Chris Crocker, though, playing in his first NFL game after being cut from the team at the end of last season.
A defense that has been the miserable point of a winning team this season finally got their due. The offense wasn’t forced to win the game on Sunday. It was a team effort. Every man did his job. This is exactly what the struggling defense needed. Hope. That hope, determination, and willingness to fight to the finish is all they need to help this team to another AFC playoff berth.
No more soul searching for this Cincinnati Bengals team. Every man on this 53 man roster is ready and understands what needs to be done. This team knows who they are and they are and they are ready to win.