A lot of times when we see punts downed inside the receiving team's 10-yard line, we might write off the subsequent drive, expecting the distance to be too far for the offensive team to march downfield.
It was hard to do that with the Cincinnati Bengals last season.
Every time they took over a possession inside their own 10, the Bengals slowly eased their way down the field until they ended the respective drive with a touchdown.
That number represents Friday's factoid: 8.
In all, eight Bengals drives began 90 or more yards away from the end zone in 2013. All eight resulted in touchdowns (six passing, two rushing). That was the most in the NFL, as were Cincinnati's 12 touchdowns on drives of 80 yards or more. The 90-yard drives are even more notable when you consider the team had just one 90-yard scoring drive in both 2011 and 2012.
The closest any other team came to the Bengals' eight was the four 90-yard or more touchdown drives Cleveland, New Orleans and Green Bay had. On average, it took Cincinnati nine plays to score on those 90 yards/more drives to the end zone.
The Bengals' quickest drive of 90 yards or more last season came in their Week 7 win at Detroit. On just three plays on their first drive of the game, the Bengals went from their own 10 to the goal line. It was quarterback Andy Dalton's 82-yard touchdown to A.J. Green that finished the drive so quickly. Green put a double move on his defender before turning toward the middle of the field as the ball arrived and his defender fell. Once he slipped past the cornerback, Green sprinted free the rest of the way.
The drive took just 55 seconds.
Cincinnati's longest drive based on number of plays was a 14-play, ground-and-pound second-half possession against New England in Week 5. It ended when running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a former Patriot, dove behind extra blocker Domata Peko on a fourth-and-goal 1-yard touchdown run. Instantly, it became the highlight of a still young season.
Be on the lookout this season to see if the Bengals will be able to replicate such feats under new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's scheme. In theory, they should. After all, they didn't have any glaring personnel makeovers this offseason. They mostly bring back the same squad. The Bengals' new offense will require them to play at a higher between-whistle pace, meaning the longer a drive lasts, the more tired the opposing defense should -- in theory -- become. The more tired the defense is, the easier it ought to be to finish it off with a score.
The Bengals' desire to create their share of big plays after lulling a defense to sleep with a series of runs bodes well for more scores like Dalton's long pass to Green at Detroit. All of this is to say, don't be surprised if Cincinnati has similar success on long drives this year.