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A.J. Green’s big plays keep Bengals in AFC playoff race

Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals are still in the playoff hunt. They’ll just need to play better than they did today if they want to stay there.

Cincinnati got off to a slow start and trailed by 10 late in the third quarter today against the Browns, and for much of the game it looked like the Bengals were going to blow it. But late in the fourth quarter, A.J. Green stepped up.

With the score 20-20 late in the fourth, Green had a sensational 51-yard catch-and-run to set up the winning field goal, and Cincinnati won 23-20.

Although Green never reached the end zone himself, both of the Bengals’ touchdowns were set up by big plays from Green, one a 24-yard catch and one a 35-yard catch. There’s plenty of talk that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is the NFL’s rookie of the year, but you can make a good case that Dalton is not even the best rookie on the Bengals’ offense: Green has been outstanding.

At 7-4, the question now facing the Bengals is whether they can beat a good AFC opponent. They’ll have two opportunities to do just that in their next two games, at Pittsburgh and home against Houston. Win both, and the Bengals are undeniably major players in the AFC playoff race — but to do that they’ll have to play better than they did today against the Browns. Lose both, and they’re probably out of it.

It remains to be seen whether the Bengals can get to the postseason. But considering where the expectations were before the season, it says a lot that we’re even talking about that at the end of November. And no one has been more important to the Bengals’ turnaround than Green.

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21 Responses to “A.J. Green’s big plays keep Bengals in AFC playoff race”
  1. whodey14to18 says: Nov 27, 2011 4:43 PM

    WHODEY!!!!!!!

  2. bengalguy says: Nov 27, 2011 4:45 PM

    AJ GREEN….S…T…U…D!!!!!

  3. donbaseball says: Nov 27, 2011 4:49 PM

    Not just the playoff race… The Bengals are 1 game back for the AFC North and the #1 seed in the AFC. Look it up.

  4. sizzleownsbigben says: Nov 27, 2011 4:56 PM

    They may be 1 game back but they will not beat the Ravens or the Steelers

  5. bballpat07 says: Nov 27, 2011 4:57 PM

    When I was at the bar and when I saw this play on Red Zone (stupid blackout rule) and literally jumped up and hugged a random stranger and whole bar started chanting “Who Dey!!!”

    I love when the Bengals are relevant.

  6. donbaseball says: Nov 27, 2011 5:00 PM

    Thank you Sizzle for the insightful and analytical commentary.

  7. sizzleownsbigben says: Nov 27, 2011 5:03 PM

    However they are young and tallented. The Steelers are old and on the decline. Could be the Ravens and the Bengals fighting for the AFC North for a few years.

  8. kazkal says: Nov 27, 2011 5:52 PM

    ———————————————–
    sizzleownsbigben says: Nov 27, 2011 4:56 PM

    They may be 1 game back but they will not beat the Ravens or the Steelers
    ——————————————————

    We’ll see with AJ Green & Dunlap back for those games it will be different.

  9. realfootballfan says: Nov 27, 2011 5:53 PM

    Where’s that anonymous scout who said because Green did bad on the Wonderlic that he’d be a bad pro because in his words, “it’s hard for dumb receivers?”

  10. drfever73 says: Nov 27, 2011 5:54 PM

    Green is so important, not just because he is really good, but Shipley is out and the other receivers are inconsistent boneheads. Simpson and Caldwell runt he wrong routes and disappear several times in every game.

  11. ppdoc13 says: Nov 27, 2011 6:31 PM

    congrats to the bengals on beating the browns. it will be very interesting to see if they can beat the Squealers next week (i doubt it) and Houston the following week (likely win considering the Texans are now thinking about bringing Jeff George out of retirement.) The real issue for the BenGals is this…. can you beat the Steelers and Ravens. Because all these wins against losing teams is very nice, but if you want to be relevant in December and January it will be necessary to win a absolute minimum of one of the two games against the beasts of the AFCN if not both. With the Ravens already having swept the Steelers and taken the 1st from the BenGals, your most likely scenerio is to beat the Steelers and jump into a WC spot. The AFCN looks like it belongs to Bmore as long as we stop wetting the bed against the Jags of the world. And I include Cleveland in that equation. With the way we have played this year, it would not surprise me one bit to see the Clowns steal a game from us.

  12. pskotte says: Nov 27, 2011 6:36 PM

    This team can play well enough to win against anybody including the Ravens and Steelers. Hey Ratbird and Stealer fans – don’t pretend your wins were in the bag until the very last seconds. Go ahead and be smug if you want. There is still plenty of football left – bring it on. Just don’t leave during the fourth quarter, because that’s where the Bengals rule.

  13. contraryguy says: Nov 27, 2011 6:36 PM

    AJ Green… told ya so, here on PFT, in September. “Highlight-ready”.

    Simpson and Caldwell… lol… remember the two guys on Miami Vice that weren’t Crockett and Tubbs… that’s what WR 2-5 on the Bengals remind me of. Just good enough to show up for the next ‘episode’. Thankfully, Jermaine Gresham makes those guys a lesser factor than they could be. Hopefully Shipley heals up well and then there will be a bounty of options in the next training camp.

    Great game today. 10-6 is a good bet if not a lock (watch the 1-1 game w/ the Ravens).

  14. stuartscottsgooglyeye says: Nov 27, 2011 6:50 PM

    Their half empty stadium with 25% browns fans saw a great game. Awesome fan base in Cincy.

  15. coop16 says: Nov 27, 2011 7:34 PM

    As a Browns fan living in Cincy, I’m surprised by how little excitement the Bengals have generated locally. They’re in the thick of the playoff hunt, they’ve got an excellent young defense, an excellent young QB and an excellent young wideout, but nobody bothers to go to the games. If the Browns had any of those things (we clearly don’t), you couldn’t get a ticket to a game in Cleveland for a thousand bucks. Backlash against Mike Brown, I’m guessing?

  16. l6ozbud says: Nov 27, 2011 7:37 PM

    stuartscottsgooglyeye says:

    Their half empty stadium with 25% browns fans saw a great game. Awesome fan base in Cincy.
    __________________________________

    Don’t knock the fans. Bengals fans have earned the right to be skeptical and to take their time coming back and putting good money in Mike Brown’s pocket. I have no idea what team you root for, but I’m pretty sure they have a GM and scouting department.

  17. footballgod87 says: Nov 27, 2011 8:10 PM

    Michael, the Bengals still have the Rams and Cardinals on their schedule. As long as they don’t lose one of those they will still be “in it”

  18. galatians62 says: Nov 28, 2011 12:42 AM

    The Steerlers not the Ravens are very impressive. If AJ Green doesn’t get hurt, I think they beat Pittsburgh. I bad reversal took a TD off the board vs. Baltimore. Wes Welker had an identical play today and it stood.

    We are not talkin bout the 2000 Ravens or the 1976 Steerlers. These teams are VERY beatable.

  19. td40 says: Nov 28, 2011 1:38 AM

    Browns led for what, 58 minutes? They always find a way to hand the game over on a silver platter.

  20. CKL says: Nov 28, 2011 4:03 AM

    I’m a Pats fan but since so many of their games have been on later in the day this year, I’ve watched several Bengals games and I love the way they play. Seeing Dalton & Green play the way they have as rookies is really cool. Love the D too. Zimmer should be the next hot HC candidate.

  21. numberonesteelerhater says: Nov 28, 2011 10:07 AM

    Zimmer will be the head coach at Indianapolis or Miami next year.

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