Rookie Bernard growing into big role for Bengals
Giovani Bernard was heading back to the huddle after a long run
when he got a compliment from one of the Colts linebackers.
”After the play, he was like, `You’re a shifty dude,”’ Bernard
Shifty. Elusive. And quickly growing into an integral part of
the Cincinnati offense.
Bernard had his best game on Sunday, running for a career-high
99 yards and catching four passes for 49 yards during a 42-28 win
over the Colts. He leads the AFC in yards from scrimmage by a
rookie with 1,023, giving the Bengals (9-4) the dual threat out of
the backfield they’ve lacked for years.
With BenJarvus Green-Ellis filling the role of power runner, the
Bengals have a combination that reminds them of the last time they
made a deep playoff run.
They made it to the Super Bowl in 1988 with a running tandem of
James Brooks and Ickey Woods. Woods did the straight-ahead running
and danced his ”Ickey Shuffle” after a score. Brooks was the
dual-threat back who was second on the team in rushing and fourth
”It’s just going to continue,” Bernard said. ”We’ve just
really hit our stride.”
The Bengals have been looking for a dual-threat back for years.
They took Chris Perry in the first round in 2004, but he was hurt a
lot. They took halfback Kenny Irons in the second round in 2007;
that didn’t work out either. Change-of-pace running back Bernard
Scott came in the sixth round in 2009, but also was hurt.
Bernard, a second-round pick out of North Carolina, has finally
filled the niche.
”I think back to 2008 when Ray Rice was a rookie,” coach
Marvin Lewis said, referring to the Ravens’ star running back.
”Some of his runs – low to the ground with his hands down – that’s
who we kind of likened Gio to as we evaluated him out of
The Bengals have taken a while to figure out how to blend the
two together. They’ve found the right mix in the last few
Bernard has at least 95 yards rushing and receiving in four of
the last five games. On Sunday, he came up 1 yard shy of becoming
the first Bengals running back to run for 100 yards this
”For me, the biggest thing that I try to do is just all-purpose
yards,” Bernard said. ”It’s not the running, it’s not the
(receiving), it’s just a combination of the two.”
Even though the Bengals haven’t had a 100-yard rusher, they’ve
had big games with the two of them running the ball. They piled up
155 yards against the Colts, the fifth time this season they’ve
rushed for more than 150 in a game.
Green-Ellis had 48 yards on 17 carries against the Colts and a
pair of touchdown runs, including one they were still talking about
Monday. The Bengals went for it on fourth down from the
Indianapolis 1-yard line late in the first half.
Nose tackle Josh Chapman swiped at Green-Ellis’ feet and
appeared to trip him in the backfield. Green-Ellis stumbled forward
and landed at the 1, then stretched the ball into the end zone. He
was initially ruled down at the 1, but the Bengals were awarded a
touchdown upon review.
Referee Jeff Triplette said the review focused only on whether
Green-Ellis was touched as he fell at the 1-yard line, not whether
he was tripped in the backfield.
Triplette’s crew had trouble getting the down and distance
correct at the end of the Giants’ 24-17 win over Washington last
”I guess it’s just not a good week for those guys,”
Green-Ellis said Monday. ”I’m just happy that we get one in our
favor. Man, we’ve had so many calls go against us in the opposite
direction. So I’m happy to get one and that we got away with that
one like that.”
Notes: CB Terence Newman had a brace on his left leg Monday. He
hurt his knee late in Sunday’s game. It’s unclear how many games
he’ll miss. … The Bengals’ sloppy tackling allowed Colts
receivers to pile up 206 yards after catches on Sunday, the most
they’d allowed since 2009, according to STATS.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org