The Cincinnati Bengals were able to flex their defensive muscles against the Detroit Lions in week seven of the NFL season in terms of defending the run. Despite solid performances this year from both players, the Bengals were able to hold Reggie Bush and Joique Bell to just a combine 77 yards on 25 carries, as well as no touchdowns.
The Bengals pass defense, though, somewhat let them down. They allowed Matthew Stafford to throw for 357 yards and three touchdowns in the game, which is why the Bengals needed a last-second Mike Nugent field goal to seal the victory and move to 5-2 on the season. Sure, Calvin Johnson did some things that normal human beings aren’t able to do, but that’s still a lot to give up to a team through the air.
Cincinnati’s defense has been vital to their success this season largely because the inconsistent play by their offense. The Cincy running game had been inconsistent at best and quarterback Andy Dalton hadn’t looked great unless he was throwing the ball up to A.J. Green (which, let’s be honest, is something Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow could probably do).
Against the Lions, not exactly the greatest defense ever, Dalton finally looked like a leader under center and put forth a fantastic effort in the matchup. Throwing the ball 34 times, Dalton completed 24 of his passes for 372 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was, once again, aided by a star-performance by Green, but he was also making solid decisions and big-time throws throughout the game.
What made Dalton’s numbers and play on Sunday even more impressive was the fact that he was able to play that well without Cincinnati establishing the run. The Bengals running game finished with only 57 yards on 18 carries for the day, not giving Dalton much help. Dalton was finally able to rise to the occasion, though.
Earlier this week, I talked about how the Bengals need to prove that they deserve to be taken seriously in this league. Though their defense and running game didn’t do much in that regard, Dalton certainly did. He doesn’t need to hang 370 yards on his opponents every week, but him making good reads and making plays is something that will take Cincinnati from being a fraud to the real deal.