Colts vs. Bengals: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Cincinnati

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIDecember 9, 2013

Colts vs. Bengals: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Cincinnati

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    The Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) were able to slide into the third seed for the upcoming 2013 playoffs after defeating the Indianapolis Colts (8-5) by a score of 42-28 on Sunday.

    Cincinnati's offense came alive, as the Bengals scored early and often in what turned out to be a relative shootout.

    This win was not a one-man show. In fact, the entire team came together and played as well as they have so far this season. The dominance that the Bengals showed on Sunday—specifically on the offensive side of the ball—bodes well for the remainder of the season.

    It is this kind of play that can warrant excitement from Bengals fans for the ensuing playoffs.

    Let's take a look at how each positional unit fared for Cincinnati in Sunday's stellar performance.


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    Finally, this is the kind of performance that can be expected of quarterback Andy Dalton. He has had a roller-coaster season thus far; however, he has been able to shine at times despite his inconsistent play.

    Dalton completed 24 of his 35 passing attempts for 275 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 120.5 against the Colts. This was one of his most complete performances to date.

    He showed great poise in the pocket, a good zip on the football and better accuracy than he has been able to muster in recent weeks.

    Dalton also showed ability as a runner on Sunday. He used great vision to find a gap in the Colts defensive front and scamper into the end zone untouched for his fourth total touchdown on the day.

    If Dalton can keep up this kind of play going forward, the Bengals could be one of the most feared teams entering the 2013-14 playoffs.

    Game Grade: A

Running Back

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    Not only did the Bengals offense flourish through the air, but it was able to get it done on the ground as well. The balanced offense that it was able to produce on Sunday is exactly what was needed to send this team in the right direction.

    The ground game was led by rookie running back Giovani Bernard. He was able to keep his streak of tremendous play going with a 12-carry, 99-yard performance. He averaged an impressive 8.3 yards per carry on the ground against the Colts.

    Bernard also continued to flash his versatility, as he caught four passes for 49 yards on Sunday as well.

    Veteran running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was able to use his short-yardage skill set and find the end zone twice against the Colts. Unfortunately, that was the only area of the game in which he was efficient. He rushed for a total of 48 yards on 17 carries which is good enough for an average of just 2.8 yards per carry.

    As a team, the Bengals rushed 35 times for 155 yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and totaling three touchdowns.

    Game Grade: A

Wide Receiver

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    The wide receiver corps was led once again by All-Pro wideout A.J. Green. Green was able to haul in six receptions on eight targets for 72 yards and one touchdown. He continues to show why he remains as one of the NFL's elite at the position.

    Marvin Jones is quickly stepping up as the long-lost No. 2 wide receiver that this team has been searching for. Jones' speed continues to be an asset on offense, as he was able to torch the Colts secondary for 60 yards and a touchdown on just three receptions—an average of 20.0 yards per catch.

    Mohamed Sanu continued his role as a possession receiver who can be relied on to make tough, contested catches. Sanu reeled in two receptions for 26 yards on Sunday.

    Dalton spread the ball around nicely, so there was not just one weapon that had a huge day against the Colts. However, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the Bengals receivers made the most out of their targets, as none of them were charged with a dropped pass.

    Game Grade: A

Tight End

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    Jermaine Gresham was able to take advantage of a porous Colts secondary on Sunday. Andy Dalton was able to hook up with Gresham five times for 41 yards and a score on Sunday. Each time Gresham was targeted by his quarterback, he was able to reel it in. That's efficiency.

    Rookie tight end Tyler Eifert was not utilized as much as the veteran on Sunday; however, he was still able to come away with three receptions for 20 yards.

    The two-tight end set has not been as devastating this season as was once projected, but with the way Dalton has been spreading the ball around lately, there is no reason for concern.

    Game Grade: B

Offensive Line

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    Cincinnati's offensive line was absolutely stellar in pass protection on Sunday. They were able to keep Dalton completely clean, as the Colts were unable to bring him down for a sack over the duration of the contest.

    In fact, not only was Dalton kept from being sacked, but the Colts failed to record a single hit on the quarterback.

    Run blocking was a bit of a different story for this group. They were able to hold block long enough to allow the elusive Bernard to squeeze through; however, the plodding style of Green-Ellis did not mesh well with this line.

    Green-Ellis is rather slow getting out of the backfield which causes the line to hold blocks for a longer duration. Granted, this is not completely the fault of the big men up front, but it doesn't make for a good game, statistically speaking.

    Overall, the line had quite an above-average game. Pass blocking was stellar, and it did allow the Bengals to accumulate 155 yards on the ground.

    Game Grade: B+

Defensive Line

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    The defensive line was able to get a small amount of pressure on Andrew Luck; however, they were unable to come away with a single sack. That does not look good going forward, as the Colts offensive line has been decimated this season, and Luck has been under a heavy amount of pressure.

    The line was able to redeem themselves somewhat against the run. Trent Richardson and Donald Brown were only able to average 3.3 and 2.8 yards per carry, respectively.

    Luck, however, was able to find some open space at times, as he carried two times for 32 yards.

    Still, the Bengals held the Colts to just 63 total rushing yards over the contest.

    Game Grade: C


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    Vontaze Burfict led the team in tackles once again, totaling eight over Sunday's contest. Vincent Rey was able to find production as well, as he totaled five. It was a rather quiet day for Rey Maualuga, totaling just two tackles against the Colts.

    This unit was caught out of position at times, which led to Luck's long scampers. However, they were able to contribute nicely against the run and also helped contain tight end Coby Fleener to five receptions for just 31 yards.

    The offensive scheme of the Colts took the Bengals linebackers out of the contest on many occasions, as Indianapolis featured a pass-heavy attack to its receivers on the outside.

    Game Grade: C+


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    It wasn't the best of days for the Bengals secondary. Luck was able to pick them apart for four passing touchdowns on the day.

    Granted, the Bengals already-decimated secondary suffered more setbacks on Sunday, as Terence Newman and George Iloka suffered injuries.

    This forced Dre Kirkpatrick into action alongside Adam Jones. The duo ended up allowing plenty of yards and scores in the second half of the contest.

    According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Luck's passer rating against Jones and Kirkpatrick was 120.8 and 97.9, respectively. Jones allowed two touchdowns over the course of the day—Newman allowed the other two.

    Allowing four touchdown passes and 326 passing yards to a struggling offense is not a good indication for this unit moving forward. Expect adjustments by defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer before the Bengals face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers next week.

    Game Grade: D

Special Teams

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    Brandon Tate stole the show on special teams against the Colts. He was able to produce as a kick returner as well as a punt returner.

    Tate returned three kickoffs for a total of 86 yards, an average return of 28.7 yards with a long return of 44 yards. On punt returns, Tate was able to rip off a 43-yard gain as well. He was responsible for the Bengals maintaining solid field position throughout the matchup.

    The Bengals kick coverage unit did allow a bit of room for Colts returners. Chris Rainey took one return 28 yards, while Cassius Vaughn was able to find space on a 33-yard return.

    Mike Nugent was rather quiet, as the Bengals did not attempt a field goal against the Colts. He did connect on all six extra points.

    Kevin Huber was able to rip off a booming 70-yard punt on the day; however two touchbacks hurt his average.

    Game Grade: C+


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    Kudos must be given to offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Gruden has struggled to find ways to improve the performance of his offensive personnel over the course of the 2013 NFL season. He finally figured it all out on Sunday.

    This was the most balanced offensive attack that Cincinnati ran so far this season. Dalton attempted 35 passes, and the Bengals rushed 35 times as a team. That is the absolute definition of a very balanced offense.

    Defensively, some adjustments will be needed after suffering losses in the secondary over the game. Also, Zimmer must figure out a way to apply more pressure to opposing quarterbacks—especially while dealing with so many injuries on the defensive side of the ball.

    Head coach Marvin Lewis came in with a great game plan, and his team flourished because of it. The Bengals are now 6-0 at home this season and look to have a very good chance of playing at least one home playoff game this year.

    The coaching staff has this team clicking at the right time.

    Game Grade: B+