While the Bengals are extolled for their finest all-around performance of the season in Sunday’s 31-13 victory over the Giants at Paul Brown Stadium, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga is hearing the same thing.
Gone were the defense’s wide open receivers across the middle and the missed tackles that turned three-yard gains into eight and nine. Maualuga’s game-high 12 tackles were of the sure variety and he made certain his defense covered close enough to the receiver that the Bengals virtually eliminated yards after catch.
While cornerback Leon Hall shadowed Giants leading receiver Victor Cruz for much of the game, he had some help in holding him to three catches for 26 yards.
“Everything was similar from last week’s offense to this week’s offense,” Maualuga said. “We knew that Victor Cruz was such a big part of their offense and is a great weapon. Most of our plays were based on doubling him and making sure where he aligned on every play. We wanted to execute him out of the game plan and then stop the run and I think we did a good job.”
THIRD DOWN THRILLS: Talk about what a win can do for the locker room. It doesn’t hurt the stat sheet, either.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton came into the game next to last in the NFL in third-down passing ahead of only Arizona’s John Skelton with a 57.6 passer rating in 32nd place. But three of Sunday’s four touchdown passes came on third down, launching him 10 spots to No. 22 with a 74. 3 that is a rung ahead of Colts rookie Andrew Luck.
With a 91.1 passer rating, Dalton is 11th in the league and his 18 touchdown passes are tied for fifth behind co-leaders Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees with 25.
With 820 yards receiving, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has moved into sixth in the NFL. Dalton is three TD passes away from eclipsing his rookie total and Green is 238 yards away from passing his rookie total.
RUN GAME: The Bengals are still looking for their first 100-yard rusher of the season after nine games, the longest drought to open a season since the Bengals didn’t get any 100-yard rushing game during the 1993-96 seasons. Running back Cedric Benson got the first 100-yard game of 2008 in the ninth game when his 104 yards against Jacksonville became the first of his 15 100-yarders with the Bengals.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis didn’t get his first 100-yard rusher until the eighth game of his first season, when Rudi Johnson got the first 100-yard game of his career with 101 in a PBS victory over Seattle in 2003.
Tags: A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Leon Hall, Rey Maualuga, Victor Cruz
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The New York tabloids like to refer to the Giants as “Big Blue,” but this morning, quarterback Eli Manning is black and blue.
In Cincinnati’s stunning 31-13 win over New York, the Bengals nailed Manning 12 times (four sacks plus eight quarterback hits) while the Giants vaunted front four of Tuck, Pierre-Paul, Umenyiora, and Canty only got to Andy Dalton once (one QB hit and no sacks).
“They’ve got a good front – there’s no doubt,” said Michael Johnson. “They’re the Super Bowl champs. But we’re alright too.”
“They’ve earned the right to be considered one of the top D-lines in the league so when you’ve got those guys coming into your home, you want to play better than the competition,” said Wallace Gilberry. “We took pride in it and made it an issue to come out and get the job done up front.”
Gilberry had one of the four sacks as he stripped Manning of the ball and then recovered the fumble in the fourth quarter. After failing to record a sack for the first in 32 games last week against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the Bengals were determined to get his younger brother on the ground.
“Last week was embarrassing for us – not touching the quarterback,” said Johnson. “Today we played how we can play. We played almost to our full capability. We just have to continue to build on that every week. That’s how we’re supposed to play.”
“One of the chips we had for this week was to out-play their defensive line,” said Carlos Dunlap. “We knew we had the ability, but we just have to go out there and do it — don’t talk about it, be about it.”
Dunlap led the Bengals with 4.5 quarterback pressures, but all seven defensive linemen had impact plays. Robert Geathers, Geno Atkins, Wallace Gilberry, and Domata Peko also delivered hits on Eli Manning, and Michael Johnson deflected a pass that was intercepted by Pat Sims.
“It felt great to be back,” said Sims who played for the first time since the 11th game of last season. “I had fresh legs and I’m just thankful that coach gave me the opportunity to go out there and play.”
“When we get that rotation going and guys get in a groove and play how we know we can play, big things can happen,” said Johnson. “We were able to force a lot of turnovers today, that’s always good, and we just want to build on it.”
If the Bengals defensive lineman is as dominant as it was against the Giants, climbing back into playoff contention is a possibility.
“Beating the Super Bowl champs and doing it how we did it today – ain’t no telling what he can do if we can keep playing like this every week,” said Sims.
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