With their backs against the wall, the Bengals came out swinging. The attitude on both sides of the ball was different and so was the outcome.
The Cincinnati Bengals did something that they haven’t done since October. They managed to win a football game. The Philadelphia Eagles flew into the Queen City, desperately needing a win. What they encountered was a fired up Bengals team that finally found their stride. The swag was back for a day. Cincinnati clobbered the Eagles 32-14.
On Sunday afternoon, fans braved the frigid temperatures at Paul Brown Stadium to see a well-played game by Cincinnati. The Bengals put on a defensive clinic for three quarters. Paul Guenther’s unit pitched a shutout, until the 2:30 mark of the third quarter. Eagles signal-caller, Carson Wentz, was able to hook up with Zach Ertz for a 13-yard TD strike.
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The Bengals were never behind in the game. For once, it was good to see the Stripes in attack mode. In so many games this season, the fire and passion were missing from the players. There was a question of heart and desire. But, on a day that they had to show up, the Bengals showed determination on both sides of the ball.
When the Bengals come out ready to play, it’s always a sight to behold. But, with just four weeks to go in the regular season, the effort given Sunday will have to be the norm.
Where Has This Team Been?
Cincinnati clicked on all cylinders. Well, that’s an overstatement. Kicker Mike Nugent still showed some of the inconsistency that has been the bane of special teams play. Besides the struggling foot of Nugent, the Bengals executed to perfection.
Maybe Andy Dalton has figured it out. In order for the Men to have a chance, Dalton has to step up and prove that he can recapture the magic of 2015. Through most of the game, The Ginger was able to find his weapons. Dalton ended the day 23-of-31 for 332 yards. Brandon LaFell (5 REC, 95 YDS, 1 TD), Cody Core, and Tyler Boyd answered the call while A.J. Green heals.
The running game never got untracked but it wasn’t really necessary. With a sprinkling of Rex Burkhead and Jeremy Hill, the Bengals were able to keep the Eagles defense off-balance.
Welcome Back Mr. Burfict
With an exclamation point, Vontaze Burfict showed why he’s both a beast and a savior. Late in the game, Philadelphia was on the move. Down 29-14, with 4:30 left in the fourth, the Eagles seemed to be driving for another score.
Wentz dropped back to dump a short pass to Ertz. It found the mitts of Burfict at the Bengals 33. Burfict politely returned the INT to the Philly 20-yard line for a 47-yard return. The play ended Philly’s chance to tighten the score. It was Burfict’s second pick of the game and his first multiple interception (2) game.
At this point of the season, players know their backs are against the wall. But, the effort given against the Eagles was a welcome change. If Cincinnati fails to crack the postseason party, they can still be a dangerous spoiler.