Bengals’ Winners and Losers vs. Falcons

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Sep 14, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) runs the ball against Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (59) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Atlanta 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Emmanuel Lamur and Mohamed Sanu

Both Emmanuel Lamur and Mohamed Sanu played huge roles in the Bengals win over the Falcons on Sunday.  Both players filled in when respective positional stars went down to injuries in Vontaze Burfict and A.J. Green.

Emmanuel Lamur, for the second straight game, stepped up big when Burfict left the game.  Lamur finished the day with nine tackles (six solo) and one pass defended and now has 20 tackles (11 solo), two PDs, and one interception on the year.  Despite a very effective game, Lamur’s performance was lost amongst several more sexy plays such as three interceptions, a spectacular pass break-up, and a plethora of offensive highlight plays.  Nonetheless, the Bengals defense wouldn’t have been as good without Lamur on the day.  When Burfict went down against the Ravens, the Bengals struggled on defense.  Yesterday they didn’t struggle nearly as much with Burfict out and some of that had to do with Lamur.  He’s quietly been a real force for this defense as he continues to make a name for himself on this team and, maybe eventually, in the league.

Like Lamur, Sanu stepped up in a big way for the Bengals when A.J. Green left the game early on.  Sanu has been perceived as a “jackknife” type of weapon and through two games this year, he’s proved that description to be correct.  On Sunday, Sanu had three catches for 84 yards and a TD while also coming up with this play.

Sanu’s touchdown catch came on a short slant route that eventually went for 76 yards (see video); Dalton’s throw, while under pressure, was right on the money and Sanu took it from there.  Sanu now has seven catches on the year and five of those catches have gone for a first down.  He has a two-point conversion catch, a four-yard run, his 76-yard TD, and a 50-yard completion to Brandon Tate.  His versatility is perfect for Hue Jackson’s creativity and thus far, Sanu has looked great in all roles.  So long as the Bengals offense continues to be unhealthy, Sanu’s performance will be vital if this team is to win games.  Next week when the Bengals face the Titans at home, they will be without Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert at the least.  Time will tell if A.J. Green can play and along with reserves Rex Burkhead and Alex Smith.  If any (or all) of these players miss the game, it’s likely Sanu will continue to be used in a variety of ways while his performance may be the determining factor in how well this offense does against the Titans’ improved defense.

Really this “winner” tag is a testament to how deep and talented the Bengals are.  After suffering so many injuries early on this season, it’s important that the Bengals have this depth to help them through the adversity.  The Bengals’ depth seems to have no end at this point, but getting healthy over the next couple of weeks will certainly be a focus of the coaching staff.  It’s entirely possible they, at the very least, take it easy with some of these injured players heading into the bye week.  It’s a long season after that, so having their health is paramount.  Expect Lamur and Sanu to contribute similarly next week as the Bengals will continue to rely on them heavily.