Cincinnati Bengals: Recapping the Road to 5-0

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Oct 11, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) celebrates against the Seattle Seahawks in overtime at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Seattle 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Week Five: vs. Seattle Seahawks

The Bengals’ matchup with the Seattle Seahawks was an enticing game that most experts tabbed the “Game of the Week.” The 4-0 Bengals hosted the defending NFC Champion Seahawks, and although Marshawn Lynch was out with an injury, undrafted free agent rookie, Thomas Rawls, was in his own “Beast Mode” all game long. The matchup of the game, however, would be the Bengals’ second-ranked offense facing the Seahawks’ second-ranked defense.

Cincinnati’s offense got off to a quick start as usual. On the first drive of the game, Andy Dalton led the Bengals down the field and found a wide-open Tyler Eifert for the game’s first touchdown. After this, however, the offense went nearly silent. It managed to move the ball down the field but then an interception in the Seahawks’ end zone took the wind out of the Bengals until the fourth quarter, when the Bengals were down 7-24.

The fourth quarter was the easily the best quarter the Bengals have ever played in the Dalton era. After a solid punt return for a short field by Adam Jones, Dalton led the Bengals down the field, eventually connecting with Tyler Eifert for yet another touchdown, making the game 14-24. The defense finally held strong, shutting down the Seahawks on the ensuing drive. On the next Bengals possession, Dalton, assisted by Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, marched down the field; he eventually scored on a five-yard draw to pull the Bengals within three. Again, the defense resiliently stopped the Seahawks’ offense, and Cincinnati got the ball back. After another great return by Adam Jones, the Bengals marched down the short field yet again. Tyler Eifert made one of the best catches of the season, bringing the Bengals within field goal range. Giovani Bernard then ran the ball up the gut, running down the clock and gaining even more yards to help Mike Nugent feel comfortable kicking. Some way, somehow, the Bengals found kicked a game-tying field goal as time expired.

In overtime, the Seahawks won the toss and started out with the ball; yet again, Cincinnati’s defense held its ground. After a stalled offensive drive, the defense stopped the Seahawks for a fifth straight drive, allowing the Bengals’ offense to get the ball back and move it down the field. On the Bengals’ second offensive possession, they moved the ball down the field into field goal range. Mike Nugent, with a chance to redeem himself just a year after missing a game-winning field goal against the Carolina Panthers, knocked a field goal into the left upright; the ball somehow continued to move forward, and the Bengals won the game.

The defense played the best quarter of its season in the fourth quarter. After seeing the Seahawks jump out to a 17-point lead, Cincinnati’s D locked down the Seattle offense and gave the Bengals’ offense life after forcing three straight punts. Adam Jones added an interception and the defense sacked Russell Wilson four times throughout the game. The two overtime possessions were crucial to the Bengals’ win, as the defense absolutely locked down Seattle’s offense after being torched throughout the first three quarters of the game.

Bengals stun Seahawks 27-24 in overtime.

The road has to 5-0 been anything but easy, but with a two-game lead over the Big Ben-less Steelers, Cincinnati has an opportunity to win the division. A win over the 3-2 Bills before Cincinnati’s Week 7 bye could be instrumental in a playoff run; the Bengals would only have to win four of their remaining 10 games to be a 10-win team on the season, given a win in Buffalo. A 6-0 start would tie the franchises best start, which was accomplished in both 1975 and 1988. The Bengals are a serious contender for a first-round bye, and they are a legitimate contender to make a Super Bowl run.

Next: NFL Power Rankings and Awards: Week 5