Sunday, October 13, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Cincinnati Bengals
By Coley Harvey
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 27-24 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills:
What it means: With their overtime win over the Bills, the Bengals have put together back-to-back wins for only the second time this season. While they failed to completely shut down the Bills after holding a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, they did earn yet another dramatic victory when Mike Nugent drilled a 43-yard game-winning field goal. It was Nugent's second game-winning field goal from 43 yards against the Bills.
Stock watch: Bengals' passing game. Two weeks ago, the word "atrocious" might have been the most accurate way to describe the Bengals' passing woes in a 17-6 loss to Cleveland. The effort made some in the fan base call for offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to lose his job and for quarterback Andy Dalton to be replaced. Since then, though, the masses have tamed a bit. Cincinnati has showcased a more balanced scheme the past two games that features a re-emerging passing attack. After throwing for 212 yards and completing 73 percent of his passes against New England last week, Dalton threw for 337 yards and completed 65 percent of his throws Sunday. He added three touchdowns and an interception. Many of his early passes were the short screens that his athletic receivers and running backs turned into long gains. A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard and Marvin Jones all had receptions longer than 40 yards.
Flag magnet? Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict seemed to be targeted by officials, drawing three 15-yard penalties from the crew headed by Ed Hochuli. Each came in the first half. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after coming in late on a tackle to stop a run by Bills quarterback Thad Lewis, drew a personal foul on a tackle attempt on Bills receiver T.J. Graham, and was charged with a face mask penalty at the end of another tackle. The unsportsmanlike call put the Bills inside the 10. Two plays later, they scored. Burfict has now been penalized six times this season. His only other 15-yard penalty came three weeks ago, when he drew an unnecessary roughness call against the Packers. It's a tough balance Burfict has to walk, though. He can't calm his play too much. After all, he is Cincinnati's leading tackler and is around most every play.
What's next: Cincinnati's October road tour continues next Sunday when it travels to Detroit. The Bengals (4-2) are in the middle of a month that will see them play four out of six games on the road. They lead the all-time series against the Lions 7-3.