Bengals’ RB tandem has them in high gear
The Bengals still don’t have a 100-yard game by either of their
running backs, a surprising statistic for a team that likes to
grind it out whenever possible.
Just shows how well their tandem is working.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis had his best game of the season Sunday,
finishing off a 17-10 win in San Diego by running over defenders
while the Bengals (8-4) ran out the clock. The tackle-to-tackle
runner finished with a season-high 92 yards. Rookie Giovani Bernard
added 57 yards.
Cincinnati piled up 164 overall on the ground, the fourth time
the Bengals have rushed for more than 160 yards in a game this
There’s no single star in this running game.
”Those guys really complement each other well,” offensive
coordinator Jay Gruden said on Monday. ”Bennie’s obviously a
banger and Gio can do some different things. He softens up the
defense because they’re worried about the passing game with him
swinging out of the backfield. So both of them are very effective
with what they do.
”The important thing is to keep them fresh and try to stick
Their showing on Sunday was in some respects their most
impressive yet, even though they remain one of only six teams in
the league without a 100-yard rusher this season. The line was in
flux after left guard Clint Boling tore the anterior cruciate
ligament in his right knee during the first quarter.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth moved into Boling’s spot and
Anthony Collins came in to play left tackle. Coach Marvin Lewis
said Monday that Boling would have surgery.
Despite the line changes, the Bengals were able to run the ball
when it mattered.
Green-Ellis scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter. With
the Bengals leading 17-10 and 4:43 left, they got the ball at their
34-yard line and ran out the clock. Their last eight plays were
runs, followed by Andy Dalton twice going to his knee as the clock
Green-Ellis converted a pair of third-down rushes to keep that
final drive going.
”I get a lot of that Mariano Rivera stuff,” Green-Ellis said
Monday, referring to the Yankees closer. ”I guess I’m getting a
new nickname. It’s fun. Obviously you like to have the ball in your
hands to close out games.”
Green-Ellis, whose nickname is ”The Law Firm,” is known for
holding onto the ball when other teams are trying to rip it out of
his arms. The Bengals had a chance to put the game away midway
through the fourth quarter on Sunday, but he lost a fumble for only
the fourth time in his career.
The Bengals got the ball back, and he held on.
”When you give up one of those, it’s like you have something
burning inside of you that you didn’t even know you had,”
Green-Ellis said. ”You just get a lot more energy and power.”
Gruden could sense an extra determination by Green-Ellis on that
”He hasn’t put the ball down too many times in his career,”
Gruden said. ”You could tell when he does, it hurts him more than
it hurts us. It hurts us a lot, but it really hurts him. And you
want to make up for it, and he did.”
Part of the reason the Bengals don’t have a 100-yard rusher is
because their two backs are sharing plays. Green-Ellis has carried
176 times for 614 yards; Bernard has 119 carries for 521 yards.
Using them interchangeably has kept both fresh and allowed Gruden
to get creative.
”It lets coach Gruden utilize his entire playbook and not limit
him at all,” Bernard said. ”If there’s a situation where I need
to go in, he’ll throw me in. If there’s a situation he wants Benny
in, he’ll throw him in. It definitely helps us and we definitely
use it to our advantage.”
NOTES: Lewis is considering keeping Whitworth at left guard this
Sunday against the Colts (8-4) at Paul Brown Stadium. Lewis said
there’s a chance right guard Kevin Zeitler, who missed the last two
games with an injured right foot, could be back in practice this
week. … CB Dre Kirkpatrick said he left the locker room quickly
on Sunday because he was emotional over his first career
interception. ”I just wanted to take it all in,” he said.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org