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Talking about who played well and who didn’t following a blowout loss is hard, but it might be even more difficult after a tie. One that saw Bengals’ 10-year veteran kicker Mike Nugent push a game-winning, 36-yard field goal wide right as time expired. A tie feels like going to see The Eagles live in concert, and them not playing Hotel California, or Take it Easy. I digress, because this is not about the agonizing pain of a tie, but about who “Earned Their Stripes” this week.
Without further adieu, this week’s offensive player who “earned his stripes” is none other than second-year running back Giovani Bernard. Bernard carried the ball 18 times for 137 yards and a touchdown, and caught four passes for 20 yards. That is a total of 157 all-purpose yards and the one score, which came off of a “home run” play. Bernard took the handoff from Andy Dalton at the 11-yard-line and did the rest. 89 yards later, Bernard was celebrating the second longest touchdown run in Cincinnati Bengals’ history (Corey Dillon, 96 yards in 2001 versus Detroit).
Giovani Bernard is well on his way to a great sophomore season, having already racked up 562 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. Gio ranks 10th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage and fourth in the NFL in touchdowns. Pretty impressive numbers considering the Bengals have been without A.J. Green for two games, and without Marvin Jones who was just placed on I.R. for the rest of the season. With the attention shifted from outside receivers to overall playmakers like Bernard, Gio has still has managed to be one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL.
As the offense adjusts to life without Marvin Jones, and possibly A.J. Green (turf toe), look for more players like Giovani Bernard to step up and be the workhorses of this offense. The Hue Jackson offense relies heavily on a strong running game to setup the passing game. In lieu of several offensive weapons, Bernard has to be the go-to-guy in this offense. As long as he continues to perform at a high level, there is no reason to believe the Bengals can’t bounce back from this football abomination known as a tie, and string together a few victories.
By Brian Dugan | Stripehype.com | October 15, 2014