The Bengals Pro Bowlers – Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, and Geno Atkins – each had great stats in Sunday’s 27-10 win at Jacksonville, but this was a win where considerable credit should go to the “other guys.”
Like Cedric Peerman.
The Bengals were sputtering through a penalty-plagued first half when Peerman took a sideways snap on a fake punt and ran 48 yards from the Cincinnati 34 to the Jacksonville 18.
“I can’t do anything without a great snap from Clark Harris and then the guys up front doing a great job of blocking, so hats off to them,” said Peerman. “My teammates were giving me a little grief saying, ‘You should have scored.’ I probably should have scored, but I’m glad that I put my team in position to score.”
“Oooh, that was big,” said Chris Pressley. “Cedric did a great job of executing it. It’s something that we practice for if we see a certain look. Sometimes those plays don’t work, but to be able to execute it and get a big chunk of yards was huge.”
Pressley was another of the unsung heroes.
The 26-year-old fullback makes his living throwing his body at linebackers in hopes of opening holes in the running game, but against the Jaguars, Pressley scored his first career touchdown in four NFL seasons on a 1-yard pass from Dalton.
“The Jaguars were thinking run and coach called a great play,” said Pressley. “Green-Ellis did a good job of selling it, the line blocked really well, and I was able to get my first one. It was really cool. I live in Tampa so I had my family down here and it was nice for them to see.”
Domata Peko also deserved a pat on the back.
While Atkins, Michael Johnson, and Carlos Dunlap have been getting the headlines, Peko remains a rock in the middle of the defensive line. He had the first of Cincinnati’s six sacks on Sunday and helped the defense hold Maurice Jones-Drew to 38 yards on 13 carries.
“The key to the game today was to shut down Maurice Jones-Drew,” said Peko. “I think we held him under 100 yards and that was one of the big things that we were stressing on defense this week. We didn’t get off to a good start this season on stopping the run, but we’re starting to pick it up.”
Of course, the most unlikely hero of all was Chris Crocker. After being out of work for 174 days, the 32-year-old safety returned to the Bengals on Thursday to bolster their injury-ravaged secondary and had an interception in his first game back.
“I love it and I’m glad that he got it,” said Leon Hall. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person.”
“We’ve been missing him and we’re so happy that he’s back,” said Peko. “It seems like he gets the back-end ready. He gets everybody in the right spots and communicates very well. He’s just a savvy veteran that knows how to play the game.”
During their 3-game winning streak, the Bengals have received key contributions from veterans like Crocker, Adam Jones, and Terence Newman as well as newcomers like Armon Binns, Vontaze Burfict, and Mohamed Sanu. Who’s next?
“There are a lot of guys who weren’t going to be in the thick of the plan who are out there playing a lot of football,” said head coach Marvin Lewis.
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