3 things Bengals’ win over Detroit Lions revealed

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: Head coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with Alex Redmond
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: Head coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with Alex Redmond /

Cincinnati Bengals fans are still enjoying the Week 16 victory over the Detroit Lions. The win helped reveal a few points about 2018.

Week 16 was definitely a surprise for Cincinnati Bengals fans. And the way the game played out was reason to be enthusiastic about the near future of this team. No, it wasn’t a blowout and there were moments when it seemed the home team would fall into their old ways and leave the cold, brave souls at Paul Brown Stadium shaking their heads in disbelief.

There’s still work to be done on the offense and defense. But, the nuts and bolts are definitely in place for a better season than what was dished out in 2017. Putting the rash of injuries into perspective is paramount. Yet, there was still room for improvement. Yes, it was the Lions and history repeated itself. Cincinnati knocked the Motor City team from the playoffs in 1983. Want a blast from the past? That day, Pete Johnson ran over the Lions D for 118 yards rushing.  

The Bengals seem to have Detroit’s number but it was still a team battling for a postseason berth. In fact, the Bengals played with more passion and fire than the last three games combined. Why? I wish there was a definitive answer. But, the resulting win provided a breath of fresh air. Yes, it’s okay to be happy about the win. It doesn’t take away the pain of nine losses. But, it shows promise for the future.

The O-line can be salvaged

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It wasn’t an offensive line full of big names. There wasn’t a lot of fanfare about what they could accomplish going into the game. But, the rag-tag mix of Big Uglies got the job done.

For most of the 2017 campaign, the talk has been about the loss of Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. But, Week 16 showed us that there’s a chance to build a decent unit with what’s already under contract. To be fair, no one should be booking tickets to the Super Bowl. That’s always the goal. Yet, there’s enough untapped talent to make things interesting in Cincinnati. Christian Westerman and Alex Redmond rotated duties at left guard and held up pretty well under the pressure. Cedric Ogbuehi and Andre Smith were MIA. But, Clint Boling filled in admirably.

No, the line hasn’t been saved. But, there’s reason to be happier than before. The Bengals will go into the offseason (hopefully) looking for free agent help to fill some of the needs on the line. The draft should now serve as a way to supplement what’s already in-house.

Andy Dalton was impressed with what he witnessed from the eclectic mixture of big men.

"“Yeah, they played great. For guys playing different spots — spots they haven’t normally played — It was big for us. The way we were able to run the ball, and the way they were moving guys, it was great. I thought they played great today.”"

It’s not a complete solution. But, the building blocks are there. And they finally got a chance to shine.

Gio has always been ready

The question was a simple one. When the Bengals grabbed Joe Mixon in the draft, was it lights out for Giovani Bernard? No. Of course not. Bernard has always been a fan favorite and will remain one. The waterbug has been injured twice and has shown the resolve to return better each time.

What was the lesson? Whenever Mixon goes down, needs to be spelled or is having a bad game Bernard is the antidote.

When Mixon trotted off the field in the first half, many fans may have thought the game would shift to Dalton’s arm again. But, Bernard was able to prove he’s more than capable of being a backup and on-the-spot starter.

Next: Where Has This Team Been?

With Bernard gashing the Lions for 116 on the ground and 52 yards through the air, the Bengals’ ground game should be ready to roll against the Ravens and next year.

His effort was due to the tremendous play of a revamped line and he was grateful.

"“Every single day, those guys come here to work. It’s really just a team effort. They do a great job, and my hats are always off to those guys to be able to do what they do. It’s amazing.”"

New faces

Though Marvin Lewis won’t talk about the Lions game being his last home gift for Bengals fans, the possibility of him not walking the sidelines is real.

But, whoever takes the reins for the 2018 season won’t inherit a total mess. The Bengals are stocked with enough talent to make a run at the AFC North crown. Yet, there has to be a drastic change in coaching philosophies. Players need to be held accountable for what does or doesn’t get done.

Additionally, the coaching staff and HC should be willing to shoulder the blame for what they fail to do. Marvin may be getting the point…but a bit late.

"“Our goal as an organization is to be world champions. We’re not going to get there this year. That’s my job, to get the team to win the Super Bowl, and we’re short of that this year. That’s all I can say. There’s nothing in between as a coach — you either do or you don’t. And this year we didn’t.”"

That’s a long way from not having to motivate the team. But, a good recovery.