Cincinnati Bengals' big-play offense survives OT scare


Cincinnati Bengals defensive boss Mike Zimmer was awarded the game ball after shutting down Tom Brady in a Week 5 victory. By that measure, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden merits the honor for Sunday's performance in a 27-24 victory against the Buffalo Bills.

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After Andy Dalton's aerial attack staked the Bengals to a 24-10 lead early in the third quarter, the defense let the Bills back in the game via a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Thad Lewis.

Although A.J. Green got his season back on track with 103 yards and one touchdown, the difference in Gruden's offense was the big-play ability provided by Giovani Bernard and Marvin Jones. The two young players combined for 205 of Cincinnati's 483 total net yards, highlighted by two touchdowns and splash plays of 23, 34 and 42 yards.

If Gruden can find consistency out of Green's supporting cast to go with Zimmer's usually airtight defense, the Bengals will remain the team to beat in the AFC North.

Here's what else we learned in Sunday's game:

1. Sporting a walking boot, Lewis was sent for X-rays after limping on his right leg late in the game. The Bills will have to hope the injury isn't serious, as Lewis was far more competent than Jeff Tuel in relief of EJ Manuel. Lewis expects to be fine, which should preclude the team from seeking a new starter for Week 7 at Miami.

2. Favoring his sprained ankle, running back C.J. Spiller did well to average 5.5 yards on 10 carries. He's not close to 100 percent, which explains Tashard Choice's larger-than-usual role in a run-heavy first half. The Bills were forced to abandon a successful ground attack in the second half once the deficit reached two touchdowns.

3. Don't expect BenJarvus Green-Ellis to give way to the more explosive Bernard. Green-Ellis' jabs and rabbit punches to the body allow Gruden to get more creative with Bernard for decisive uppercuts and roundhouses in space.

4. While the big plays from Bernard and Jones were positive signs, the next step for the Bengals is getting rookie tight end Tyler Eifert more involved. After seeing seven targets last week, Eifert was the target on just three of Dalton's 40 attempts Sunday.

The latest "Around the League Podcast" features Daniel Jeremiah and previews every Week 6 game.