What Bengals proved with Week 5 win over Buffalo Bills

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CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 8: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the football in for a 77 yard touchdown reception during the first quarter of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 8: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the football in for a 77 yard touchdown reception during the first quarter of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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With a Week 5 win over the Bills, suddenly playoff talk is centered around the Bengals once more. After the Bye Week, Pittsburgh looms.

It was a game that took on monumental meaning. Week 5 was suddenly the game that would show the nation what was really happening with the Cincinnati Bengals. A disastrous start to the season had left both fans and analysts scratching their heads in disbelief. But, suddenly, Cincinnati looks like the team predicted to make the postseason. Their 20-16 win over Buffalo has tossed them into playoff conversations once more.

With a steady rain falling, gloomy skies and a must-win atmosphere, the Bengals were on the spot. A Week 4 blowout of the Cleveland Browns was expected (sort of) and generated the first win of the season. But, an overachieving Bills team was flying high, after an upset of the Atlanta Falcons. Their defense was making the necessary plays and Tyrod Taylor had the offense humming enough to win. But, this was a game that had to be won. It was a statement battle that could have easily become a trap game. Yet, the home team was able to produce the results they needed.

Going into the Bye Week, Cincinnati has put the pressure on Pittsburgh and Baltimore to win. A one-game lead isn’t a guarantee for AFC North superiority. The Buffalo win gives Bengals faithful something to believe in.

The D is Real 

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If there was any doubt about the Bengals having a legitimate defense, this game proved the D is a force to be reckoned with. Shutting down DeShone Kizer was bound to happen. After all, he’s a rookie. Facing a multiple look unit like Paul Guenther’s is a monster task. But, putting a clamp on the Bills and Taylor was a big-time feat.

The Bills were without a legitimate downfield threat but had managed a 3-1 record to start the year. Charles Clay has been the heartbeat of the Buffalo offense and looked like he was going to do major damage to the Bengals’ D. But, he went down with a knee injury. Taylor was forced to find other targets and the Bengals were able to stifle his efforts.

What did the defense manage to do? They held the Bills to 36 yards of offense in the second half and allowed just 221 for the entire game. The Bengals are sitting at No. 7 in the league, for total defense. But, they are second behind (guess who) the Bills in points allowed.

The defense continued its “sack attack” with six takedowns of Taylor. Michael Johnson led the barrage with two. Vontaze Burfict, Geno Atkins and Jordan Willis contributed single sacks. Carl Lawson was flagged for roughing the passer after Burfict’s sack. But, he quickly came back on the next play to snag a takedown of Taylor. In all, the Bengals have 18 sacks and rank 2nd in the NFL.

They Can Find A Way

When the Bills took the lead in the third quarter (13-10), it felt like a typical Bengals meltdown was on the horizon. But, Andy Dalton was able to rally the troops and engineer a  7-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Joe Mixon scampering around end for his first TD and the go-ahead score.

Dalton was able to stay focused–on a taped, gimpy ankle–and get the Bengals into the red zone. With the defense playing championship caliber football, that fourth-quarter drive turned out to be the winning effort. A.J Green was both magnificent and atrocious. But, he overcame two tipped balls (for interceptions) and a fumble to post 189 yards on seven catches and a TD. He helped set up Mixon’s touchdown with a long pass-and-catch that set the Bengals up at Buffalo’s 5-yard line. The play was possible after Dalton faced a Bills blitz and found him open down the right side.

Next: Road To The Postseason

"“He’s our leader and he knew he couldn’t come out,” Green said of Dalton. “We know how tough that guy is. He fights his butt off every day and he’s one of the best. A lot of people try to give him slack, but this guy, I’d rather have nobody else.”"

Reaching the break at 2-3 gives the Bengals some breathing room. But, it gets no easier. Week 7 brings a date with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It could very well be a battle for first place in the North.

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