Posted: 5:00 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
By Anthony Cosenza
The Cincinnati Bengals made their faithful fans pull their collective hair out of their heads on Sunday, but came away victorious against the Buffalo Bills in overtime. The team's win in Buffalo marked the first time that they have beaten the Bills on the road in 28 years.
We've given you the nominations for the player of the game, so now it's time to give some props to the guys doing all of the right things in the shadow of the MVPs. Here is who we have for the Week Six "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" (Editor's Note: The players nominated for this award are almost always players that were left off of the weekly MVP list) :
A.J. Green: Fellow wide receiver Marvin Jones greatly deserved his MVP nomination, but Green quietly put together a quality day against the Bills. He recorded six catches for 106 yards and had yet another acrobatic touchdown grab. He made a great play after a short pass from Andy Dalton that he turned into a 54-yard gain. Even when defenses focus on Green, he still shows why he is one of the best receivers in the game. He has four touchdowns in six games so far.
Andrew Whitworth: The big left tackle really showed some impressive things on Sunday with his pull blocking. The Bengals decided to chang-up their offensive game plan, wisely using a short, controlled passing game, which included a number of screen passes. On multiple occasions, Whitworth was seen chugging downfield springing blocks on Jones' big run and Green's big play after his catch. On both plays, Whitworth combined to take out three or four defenders and earned an official Josh Kirkendall "man-crush". As if that wasn't enough, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard had nice days at the office and combined for 114 yards rushing.
Geno Atkins: We all know that Atkins, being one of the team's best players, is almost always destined to be on either the MVP or the "Unsung Hero" list week after week. After a slow start to the 2013 season, Atkins has turned it on and was very active against the Bills. He recorded six tackles, a half-sack and had three other quarterback hits. Though Thaddeus Lewis had some nice moments, you could tell that there were times that he was absolutely terrified of Atkins' impending doom.
Brandon Tate: Just when this guy is in everyone's doghouse, he has a performance and/or a couple of plays that take him out of it. Tate hasn't done much of anything that has been noteworthy in 2013, but he did a little bit of everything on Sunday. Throughout the entire game, Tate had some good kickoff returns as he amassed 103 yards and a nar-26-yards-per-return average. He also had the big-time 29-yard punt return in overtime to put the Bengals in position to win the game. Not good enough for you? Tate also grabbed a six-yard reception to show that he can do a little bit of everything.
James Harrison: For a guy touted as one of the biggest-name free agent signings in the history of the Bengals, he hasn't really lived up to that billing. In fairness to Harrison, he's playing a completely different role and isn't doing many of the same things that he did with Pittsburgh. However, on Sunday, Harrison had a couple of enormous plays--one of which helped turn into a 14-point swing. On a fourth-and-goal from the one, the Bills decided to go for the touchdown and went with a Lewis QB-keeper. Harrison sniffed it out beautifully and stifled the play. The Bengals went on to a 98-yard touchdown drive. On the day, Harrison had three tackles and made them count as two were for loss and another was the sack. Beastly.
Vontaze Burfict: Another guy who seems to be a perennial candidate for one of our awards, Burfict had another solid performance on Sunday. His two ticky-tack personal foul penalties aside, Burfict had 11 tackles, including one for a loss and a fumble recovery. He is truly becoming a leader on this defense and one of the better linebackers in the NFL.