Imagine being a rookie running back on the Cincinnati Bengals drafted out of Abilene Christian in the sixth round of April's NFL Draft.
Now imagine being that same rookie playing in a game against the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers and making a key play on special teams that would end up being a difference maker for the Bengals' victory.
After Sunday, Bengals rookie running back Bernard Scott is living that dream with his performance against the Steelers.
In a key game that would decide bragging rights for sole possession of first place in the AFC North, the rookie stepped up on offense and special teams to help the Bengals leave Heinz Field with an 18-12 victory, ending the Steelers' 10-game win streak at home.
With the win, the Bengals improved their record to 7-2 on the year and 5-0 against teams in the AFC North. Not only did they beat the Steelers to take a one-game lead in the division, but for the first time in franchise history, they have won five games in a row on the road.
While this was a team victory with the offense managing to get down the field and displaying a stellar performance on defense, it's hard to imagine the Bengals pulling away with the victory without the help of Scott.
After Steelers kicker Jeff Reed nailed a field goal from 28 yards with just under five minutes remaining, Scott returned the following kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, the first one of his career. He took advantage of a weak Steelers special team unit that allowed their fourth kickoff returned for a touchdown on the year. The return gave the Bengals a 6-3 lead and ended up being the lone touchdown scored by both teams.
Not only did Scott help the Bengals on special teams, but he filled in for running back Cedric Benson, who strained his hip in the first half. He finished with 33 yards on just 13 rushes and picked up key first downs for the Bengals in the fourth quarter to help run the clock down.
When the Bengals defeated the Steelers, it was the late heroics of running back Brian Leonard that helped the team seal the victory.
This time, it was the help of a rookie running back in Bernard Scott that not only helped them make a statement by defeating the Super Bowl Champions on their own turf, but inched them closer to their first playoff berth since 2005.
With a 7-2 record and a favorable remaining schedule, there's every reason to believe the Bengals will at least clinch a wild-card berth for the playoffs.
While most experts and analysts expected the AFC North to come down to a battle between the Steelers or Ravens, the Bengals are showing why they should have been at least considered all along.
Dan Parzych is the Cincinnati Bengals Examiner for Examiner.com
He is also the founder of WhoDeyBengals.com
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