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Bengals Rookie Class Looks Great

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Giovani Bernard headlines an impressive crop of rookies in Cincinnati. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
Giovani Bernard headlines an impressive crop of rookies in Cincinnati. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

One week after a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears, the Bengals responded against one of their AFC North rivals. This week’s matchup featured two teams headed in opposite directions. On one side, the Bengals are a young team with a lot of promise, making the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. Their opposition, the Pittsburgh Steelers, was a team with a lot of question marks. Their star players are getting older while their young players are not showing their potential yet. 

Monday night’s game would make you think these two teams were both in the hunt for the playoffs. This game between the Bengals and Steelers showed how dangerous the winning team could be. In this case, the now 1-1 Bengals showed that they are more than quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green as they beat the Steelers (0-2) with a final score of 20-10.

This week the team showed off some other weapons, especially their first-round pick, tight end Tyler Eifert (three catches, 66 yards), and their second-round pick, running back Giovani Bernard (38 rushing yards, 27 receiving yards, two touchdowns). The team’s first scoring drive was an 87-yard drive where 76 yards were gained by the two rookies, including a 61-yard pass to Eifert from Dalton (280 yards, one touchdown) and a 7-yard rushing touchdown by Bernard.

Many other weapons were present for the Bengals’ offense this week. Besides Green (six catches, 41 yards) and Eifert, three other players had an effect on the passing game. Tight end Jermaine Gresham (six catches, 66 yards), wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (five catches, 40 yards), and wide receiver Marvin Jones (three catches, 35 yards) were able to get open all night for Dalton. In the running game, Bernard got help from “The Law Firm,” running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (22 rushes, 75 yards), and additional support from Pro-Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who made his season debut after dealing with knee problems. 

The other touchdown for the Bengals came from Bernard when he caught the ball short and took it in from 27-yards out. This score managed to be all they would need to put the Steelers away for good. 

Defensively, the Bengals had a better time than they did against the Bears. They held the Steelers to 278 total yards and only 14 first downs.  Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger accounted for 251 yards, one touchdown. The Bengals’ defensive line (two sacks) was able to keep the pressure on Roethlisberger as well as limit the Steelers to only 44 rushing yards on 16 attempts. All the pressure forced Roethlisberger to throw an interception in the red zone.

In preparation for next week’s contest against the Green Bay Packers, the defense will need to maintain the same intensity they did against the Steelers if they wish to contain quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his group of wide receivers.  Offensively, the team is going to have to put up more points to show that they belong in this year’s playoffs. While the return of Whitworth helps greatly, the rest of the team needs to step up to his level and show the potential this team really has.