Bengals vs Eagles: Cincinnati's Biggest Winners and Losers from Week 15
Cincinnati won 34-13, but it was not the blowout that the score would indicate. Philadelphia's defense suddenly looked stellar against what has previously been a pretty good Cincinnati offense.
The Bengals barely kept their playoff hopes alive, but in this game, there were more losers than there were winners.
Winner: Mike Zimmer
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As bad as Cincinnati's offense was last night, the defense was that good. Nick Foles isn't an all-star quarterback, but he was held to under 50 percent completion, and Bryce Brown was limited to only 34 yards.
The defense—Vontaze Burfict namely—was in Foles' face all night and forced five turnovers. Mike Zimmer has quietly been among the league's best defensive coordinators over the past three or four years, and after the bad start this season, he's brought the 2012 version of the Bengals defense near the top.
He's a blessing that will likely leave Cincinnati following the season, but for now, he's keeping his defense performing well.
Loser: Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton scored two total touchdowns, which wound up being huge for the Bengals. The problem is that those were the only two highlights of the game for the Red Rifle.
It was one of Dalton's worst performances of the season—he fumbled twice, completed only 13 of 27 passes and only manged to gain 127 yards through the air. He was also sacked a whopping six times.
In addition to all of that, there were at least three occasions where his passes should have been intercepted. This was the last game that Dalton could manage to play this badly and still walk away victorious—with two huge games left on the schedule, he must play at his best from here on out.
Winner: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
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BenJarvus Green-Ellis notched his fourth 100-yard game in his last five showings, making it clear that he's turned things up a notch for a playoff run. Green-Ellis was extremely mediocre at the beginning of the season, but his 106-yard performance last night got him over the 1,000-yard mark.
It seemed that Green-Ellis would be nothing more than a second coming of Cedric Benson (the 2011 version) this season, but he was a true bruiser last night. He moved well, bowled through the defense and managed to to average over four yards per carry.
Green-Ellis may be a huge x-factor in a playoff run.
Loser: Bengals Wide Receivers
Only one wide receiver caught passes for the Bengals last night—that was A.J. Green. Only two other men caught passes, those players being tight end Jermaine Gresham and running back Brian Leonard.
Andrew Hawkins has consistently been a key point to the Cincinnati offense and was targeted several times in the city of Brotherly Love—to no avail. Rookie Marvin Jones was also targeted, but didn't reel in any catches.
Not that this is their fault, but a team can't live on one receiver. The Bengals receiving corps is one of the most underrated in the league, but last night, it didn't seem they showed up.
Loser: Geno Atkins
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Geno Atkins has quietly been one of the best nose tackles in the game for the last couple seasons. His 2012 season certainly hasn't seen him step back from his 2011 Pro-Bowl season. He's accumulated 33 tackles, 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Last night in Philadelphia, however, things did not go as they usually would for the perennial all-star. Atkins didn't get a single tackle and really contributed nothing to the game.
He was penalized and was not one of the men who managed to frequently apply pressure to Foles. This certainly is not a man who can disappear at this time of year.
Winner: Vontaze Burfict
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It has been quite the comeback for Vontaze Burfict, whose free fall out of the NFL draft was absolutely legendary. After his six-tackle performance last night, Burfict has 101 total tackles this season—pretty good for an undrafted free agent.
He was one of the Bengals' top performers in Philadelphia, proving to be a big part of the pass rush. He's not going to net many interceptions, but there is no doubt that he can make tackles.
Burfict has been one of Cincinnati's breakout stars in 2012, and is surely going to have to be the big linebacker going down the stretch.
Loser: Cincinnati Psyche
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A win is a win. You take it under any circumstances.
However, after such a frustrating showing, no momentum is bound to come from it. You develop momentum by winning dominantly, not by watching a team implode and basically give you the game.
These types of performances are for the old school Bengals—it shouldn't be for the 2012 Cincinnati Bengals who could still potentially win the AFC North.
Winner: AJ Green
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What else is new? A.J. Green caught six passes last night for 57 yards and a touchdown—a rather pedestrian performance for Green, but he was the life of the offense.
That gave Green more than 1,200 yards on the season, keeping him on pace to become one of the league's best receivers. His 11 scores mark the most touchdowns this season by a receiver.
He is to the Bengals what Joey Votto is to the Reds.