It was a career day for a number of Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers Sunday in the 27-24 overtime win in Buffalo.
Marvin Jones set a new mark with 71 receiving yards, Mohamed Sanu tied his career high with five catches and Dane Sanzenbacher’s 23-yard reception on a fourth-and-15 play was the longest of his career.
Even rookie running back Giovani Bernard got in on the action with a career-high 72 receiving yards on six catches, which equaled his highest total of the season.
But it was what the players did when the ball wasn’t in their hands — blocking on the edge and down field — that drew praise from the coaches Monday.
“No doubt as good as we’ve had this year,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said of the job the receivers did in blocking down field.
“Our whole game is about speed and space, so you’ve got to be blocking down the field,” wide receivers coach James Urban added. “Those are long blocks. Coach (Jay) Gruden calls them ‘steak dinner’ blocks, when you have to block all day long.”
Sanu had key blocks on Jones’ two longest plays of the day, a screen pass that went for 42 yards, another career high, and a reverse that covered 34 yards on the third snap of the game.
“On those plays you have to be physical, but you also have to be patient,” Sanu said. “You never know where the ball is going to come, or when. You just have to stay with it at as long as you can.”
The receivers’ ability to make, and sustain, blocks helped the Bengals rack up 249 yards after catch, which according to STATS LLC was the team’s highest total since rolling up 201 yards against San Francisco on Dec. 5, 1999.
“We take great pride in it,” Urban said. “They’ll be the first to tell you that there were a few we could have been better at and we’ll just keep trying to do it. We know if we’re going to have big plays, almost always it comes down to perimeter blocking or blocking in space to pop it.”
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict drew three 15-yard penalties against the Bills, one for a facemask and two for unnecessary roughness, but Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said he thought only the facemask penalty was warranted.
“I don’t think on either one he really did anything,” Lewis said.
After committing only three penalties all of last year, Burfict has six in six games this season. And four of them have been 15-yarders, which is alarming considering a lack of discipline was one of the reasons he went undrafted out of Arizona State last year.
But Lewis said he is not concerned about Burfict getting a reputation with officials.
“The officials don’t know who is making the play, they make a call,” he said. “You think they say ‘Oh that’s No. 55, we are going to make a call?”
The mandatory six-week stay on the Physically Unable to Perform list has expired, which means fullback Chris Pressley (knee) and quarterback Zac Robinson (elbow) are eligible to return to practice this week.
But head coach Marvin Lewis was non-committal on whether that would happen, saying only “they are doing well.”
Pressley and Robinson have three weeks to begin practicing or else they will have to be moved to Injured Reserve. They will have an addition three weeks from the date of their first practice to be moved to the 53-man roster.
You can count Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton among the more than 344,000 viewers of the video where a son brings his dad to tears with a birthday package that includes airfare and tickets to see his first ever Bengals game, along with an autographed Dalton jersey.
“I have seen it, and it was pretty cool,” Dalton said. “It really shows the impact that we as players have on people, seeing someone get so excited to get your jersey.”