Sunday’s 430-yard performance against Indianapolis moved the Cincinnati Bengals up to 10th in total offense at 368.8 yards per game, making them one of only two teams to rank among the NFL’s top 10 in both offense and defense.
The Bengals defense, which ranks eighth, has been a top 10 unit all year, but the recent surge by the offense has put Cincinnati in position to pull off the rare double that only three teams have achieved since 2010.
“With the way our defense has been playing this whole year, if we put up couple touchdowns we can win games,” Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green said.
The Bengals have scored at least 40 points in their last three home games, a franchise record, and Sunday marked the fifth time in the last eight games the offense has topped 400 yards.
“It feels good,” Bengals center Kyle Cook said. “You saw earlier in the season there was some games where we needed the defense and really leaned on them, not only to stop the other team’s offense but to get turnovers and score some points.”
Sunday the opposite was the case as the defense had an off day. The 382 yards the Bengals allowed the Colts were the third most this year, and the 28 points were the second most.
“I know our defense. They’re kind of upset they gave up 28 points,” running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis said. “For us offensively, it just felt good to really come out and put up points and play well like we did. Our defense will be OK. If we score 42 and they score 35, we win. But in a perfect world, we know they don’t want to give up that many points.”
New Orleans is the only other team currently ranked in the top 10 in both, with the Saints sitting sixth in both offense and defense. Not coincidentally, both the Bengals and Saints are leading their divisions.
The two teams that finished in the top 10 in both offense and defense last year, Denver and Houston, also won their divisions.
“It’s important to have that balance,” defensive tackle Domata Peko said. “Our offense really came through for us (Sunday).”
The Bengals have never finished in the top 10 in both offense and defense since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002. The last time it happened was 1989, when the offense finished third and the defense seventh among 28 teams.
The last three times the Bengals have made the playoffs — 2012, 2011 and 2009 — the defense has ranked in the top 10 but the offense has been no better than 20th.
“You always want to be No. 1, no matter what you do,” Cook said. “But at the end of the day, what really matters to us is wins and losses. Being 9-4 is a great achievement for this team and shows what we can do as a whole.
“You look at ’09 when we won the division and went to the playoffs, we were the cardiac kids where we were squeaking games out,” Cook added. “We relied on our defense a lot and running the ball. This year as a whole – special teams, offense, defense – it’s the best team I’ve been on.”
Playoff picture: The Bengals can clinch their third AFC North Division championship under head coach Marvin Lewis if they gain any ground on Baltimore this weekend.
If the Bengals (9-4) win or tie at Pittsburgh on Sunday night, Baltimore (7-6) must win at Detroit (7-6) on Monday night to stay alive. While that means the Bengals cannot have a title-clinching celebration in the visitors locker room at Heinz Field on Sunday, they could still clinch a playoff berth.
If Miami (7-6) loses to visiting New England on Sunday afternoon, the Bengals could clinch at least a Wild Card berth with a win or tie against the Steelers. If the Dolphins and Patriots tie, the Bengals would clinch a playoff spot with a win at Pittsburgh.
While a Miami win would postpone any celebration, it would still be good news for the Bengals as it would give them a chance to move into position for the No. 2 seed with a win against the Steelers. In that scenario, New England and Cincinnati would both be 10-4, but the Bengals would have the tiebreaker edge by virtue of their 13-6 victory against the Patriots in Week 5.
Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8), 8:25 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 2, 5, 700-AM, 1530-AM, 102.7-FM, 104.7-FM