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Lewis: 5-0 Bengals just doing their job


The Sports Xchange

CINCINNATI — Head coach Marvin Lewis wouldn’t bite when asked to compare this year’s Cincinnati Bengals to past teams during his 13 seasons at the helm.

“I don’t want to offend anybody,” Lewis said. “But these guys are doing what they’re supposed to do and that’s a good thing.”

Cincinnati improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1988 and for only the third time in franchise history on Sunday when they rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Seattle Seahawks 27-24 in overtime.

The last time the Bengals were 5-0 they reached the Super Bowl.

Tackle Andrew Whitworth didn’t shy away from the comparison, especially after the Bengals flipped the script in fewer than 15 minutes against the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks.

Whitworth, who has played 10 seasons in Cincinnati enduring four losing seasons and four straight playoff losses, said this year’s team accomplished something on Sunday past Bengals teams wouldn’t have.

“Even when the lead got to 17 points, that’s all the guys were saying on the sideline … just ‘Hey man, stay exactly who we are and we’ll get ourselves back in this thing,’” Whitworth said. “That was the most impressive thing to me that I kept hearing the young guys saying what we preach – stay even-keeled, just ride the train and let it keep moving forward.”

Cincinnati held the Seahawks to just 59 yards combined in the fourth quarter and overtime. With top receiver A.J. Green double-covered, quarterback Andy Dalton went 13 of 15 for 135 yards and a touchdown as the Bengals scored 20 unanswered points for the win.

Dalton’s five-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to 24-21 with 3:38 left in the fourth was a result of his audible.

“We played a really good team. Seattle’s going to win a bunch of games,” said Dalton. “I told you guys, ‘This is what we’re built for. All the work we’ve put in is for situations like this.’ The hard work has paid off.”

Just five weeks into the season, Cincinnati is in control of the AFC North division with a two-game lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers and a full three-game lead on Cleveland. At 1-4, Baltimore has likely played its way out of the division race.

“We know the playmakers and players we have on this team,” said running back Gio Bernard. “We’re 5-0 and that’s huge. We’ve really just blocked everything out and been on our groove.”


–PASSING OFFENSE: A. Andy Dalton struggled to find his rhythm against Seattle’s vaunted defensive front, which sacked him four times and hurried him often. But in the fourth quarter, everything changed. The Bengals quarterback combined was 13 of 15 for 135 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime to rally his team from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit. With A.J. Green essentially removed from the offense by double coverage, Dalton had big plays to receiver Marvin Jones and tight end Tyler Eifert during the comeback and finished with 331 yards passing and two TDs.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: D. This grade might be worse had it not been for Gio Bernard’s hard-fought 80 yards on 15 carries for an average of 5.3 yards per attempt. Jeremy Hill again was a non-factor rushing for only 13 yards on eight carries. You know it was a slow day on the ground for the Bengals when QB Andy Dalton is the team’s second-leading rusher with 18 yards and a key touchdown.

–PASS DEFENSE: B. Seattle QB Russell Wilson passed for 213 yards on 23 attempts and was sacked four times. Even though the Seahawks seemed intent to establish the running game on Sunday despite the absence of injured Marshawn lynch, Cincinnati did a decent job keeping Seattle’s receivers under wraps. The only blemish, albeit a big one, was a blown assignment on receiver Jermaine Kearse’s 30-yard TD in the first quarter. “We just calmed down,” said DE Michael Johnson. “They hit us for a lot of plays, but at the end of the day, it’s about the final score. We were able to stand tall when it counted.”

–RUN DEFENSE: D. Perhaps Cincinnati’s defense exhaled when it learned that Marshawn Lynch was inactive on Sunday due to a hamstring injury. But rookie Thomas Rawls took advantage, rushing for 169 yards including a 69-yard TD during which he shed several would-be tacklers. Rawls averaged 7.3 yards per carry for the Seahawks who rushed for 200 yards on 30 attempts.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Mike Nugent had one of the finest clutch performances of his career with a game-tying 31-yard field goal on the final play of regulation and a 42-yard game-winner in overtime. Punter Kevin Huber flipped field position on a couple of occasions and averaged 48.8 yards on six punts. Kick returner Brandon Tate was scolded for choosing to return kickoffs from deep in his own end zone on three occasions and failed to reach the 20 on each.

–COACHING: A. Even trailing by 17 points in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati never wavered in its approach on offense or defense. However, when the Seahawks put cornerback Richard Sherman on receiver A.J. Green with safety help while holding him without a catch in the fourth quarter, the Bengals made some adjustments of their own to help quarterback Andy Dalton complete 14 passes to players not named Green while scoring 20 unanswered points. “It’s one of those things if they’re going to take away A.J. there’s other guys that are going to be getting open,” Dalton said. The defensive coaches pushed the right buttons, too, holding Seattle to just 59 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter and overtime.

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