This victory can be attributed to everybody doing their job and a couple of guys, namely 1 guy, stepping up and making big plays when it counted. Defense When you watch this defense "do their job" you start to wonder how anybody is going to run on them. Yes, that same defense from the start of the season. If 90 doesn't get you, you can bet 56 will, and if you're running on the opposite side 59 will be there knifing through. Suppose you get past these guys, Pollard and Quin are great tacklers too. And the best part is... CONSISTENTLY, EVERYBODY, ALL 11 GUYS, ARE IN THEIR POSITIONS AND TACKLING WELL! This is the smartest I've seen this defense play. I believe Wilson makes the mistake on the long pass to Chad Johnson and Ryans or Diles end up out of position on Benson's TD but it was a great run. The big change that I notice with them compared to any D we've ever fielded is it's hard to make plays on them. The holes are tight and the timing has to be good to make a play against them. Palmer is a good QB and does a good job but it's not enough. Some drops by his WR's is enough to cost them the game. DL Williams has a bum shoulder and it is clearly having an effect on his power rush but he is still one hell of a run stopper. Okoye plays magnificently. Especially with his hands. He's quick off the snap which we expect from him but he's also playing powerfully with his hands and being very disruptive against the pass and run. Apparently something Kollar is teaching him is sinking in. It could explain how he seemed to almost get worse at the beginning of the season. Sometimes with teaching you regress due to thinking too much. Zgonina I should just cut and paste from the last two weeks because he's still defying his age. He's quick and relatively effective. Not amazing but much better than you'd expect. Never out of position and doesn't get blown up off the ball. Is he better than DelJuan Robinson the SECOND best DT on this team? No, but he is better than this guy: Smith was ferocious and fairly impressive both inside and out. He and Bulman are very similar except that it's clear that Smith has the strength and power to really cause problems for his guy. He's terrific against the run and caused several key pressures throughout the game. Okam doesn't fit into Kubiak's "smaller up front" concept that they are going with and he doesn't fit into my "DT's that are good at playing football" concept either. So the idea of suiting him over DelJuan Robinson the second best DT on our team is confusing to me. Nick Scurfield can expect another onslaught from me. Bulman seemed relatively effective at both inside and outside positions. Barwin seems to be getting more physical with his guys but his pass rush moves are still god awful ugly. He does a pure speed rush and gets a sack. I'd like to see him try this more often. I think maybe they don't want him over running the play or something but when there is no back in the backfield I don't want to see him making moves. I want him running at the QB as fast as he can. They may feel it opens up the possibility of a scramble but again, a guy like Palmer that isn't a factor. Run 98! Jamison I didn't see him do anything good or bad other than line up off sides once. He only played a handful of snaps and was ineffective. You don't see any of these guys lighting you up and saying "wow!" but they are all effective at applying relative pressure consistently. And EVERYONE is playing gap effective football and tackling well. ... Except Okam. They are mostly effective however. LB Cushing does not play well when he's not on the field. Every other time, he plays magnificently. Everyone has seen the stat of 9 tackles and 2 FF and 1 INT but 1 of those FF's was 59's. Fear not however, I found another! Right before half time with :03 left he forces another but for some reason the review booth doesn't catch it. It would have been nullified because Tim Jamison was lined up offsides but when you're talking about a guy single handedly changing the game that kind of stuff is notable!!! The key play that defines what this guy brings for me is on the 3rd and 1 stop. 94 and 56 crash inside and Benson cuts back for what appears to be an easy first down. 56 is seemingly run out of the play because of the cutback but 56 reaches back and with one arm slaps Benson across the chest and it's enough to slow him down and eventually the play is made and Cincy has to punt. On top of all the attitude and awareness that he brings you see here another facet of his game. His sheer strength is enough to disrupt this play. He looks better every week in space and quick and aggressive on the line but always smart about it. Always in position now and mostly very sound on his angles. He is a play maker in the truest sense of the word. And he's only played 6 games!!!!!!!! Ryans is playing as smart as ever and his tackling clinic that he puts on every week is getting absurd. It's like when you watch 80 catch a ball and you think "hmm nice catch" when the rest of the leauge is saying "OH MY GOD!!!" I don't really think anything when 59 knifes through and makes a play in the backfield or in the open field but just know that it's happening play after play after play and having 56 next to him has made him twice as effective. The sky is the limit for these two. Truly. Diles can't even stay on the field because he's got to come out in nickle so he has to make the best of his 25-30 plays and he does. Very sound. No complaints, all he does is make plays and do his job. I'm a broken record with this group but they are playing lights out all the way around. And we have two above average backups!!! Secondary Robinson continues to get better each week and he makes a few very impressive tackles. The main thing that keeps standing out to me with him is his football intelligence. He reads the run and short passing game extremely well. He's very quick to react and never seems to bite on fakes. He is mostly good in coverage when there is at least above average pressure. The big play to Chad Johnson appears to be on Wilson and Robinson makes a TD saving tackle. Reeves is really showing up against the run. More so than I remember from him in the past. He whiffs on a tackle though (so did 59 and 31 on this particular play) and it's not his strong suit but he's got enough help around him that it isn't too much of an issue. Clean and fairly sound in coverage. No major mistakes or ball tracking issues to speak of. Very solid overall. He gives up a TD to Coles but Dale Murphy pointed out to me that the pressure broke down and Palmer has too much time. (This is one of very few instances where the DLine doesn't create some sort of basic pressure to force a throw.) Quin can really lay the wood and is playing with very high intelligence right now. Sound in his position especially. There is a screen pass out to the flat and he has the option to attack the ball or take on the OLinemen that is in front blocking. He chooses to engage the linemen on his outside shoulder and seal the edge forcing the runner back inside where, wouldn't you know it, there is a swarm of guys there to tackle him for little or no gain. Bennett does not see the field and therefore there are no big plays given up on those snaps. Wilson seems sound overall other than the 1 big play on 85 where for some reason he hesitates on the post route. I don't think there was even play action. He's just reading the QB wrong. Pollard is one of the guys on "team tackle". We've got some really nice, crisp sound tacklers here (yes this same D that you saw in the first 2 weeks) and 31 is fuel to the fire. He also plays very smart up near the line of scrimmage and I don't remember any deap threats where his lack of speed or coverage skills could be taken advantage of. If the DLine continues to create average consistent pressure I think you're going to see this current lineup continue to improve and perhaps even excel. They are all playing very smart football and the 7 guys in front of them are as well and that makes for a better secondary. I can't say enough about how consistent this D was. Everyone played very smart and the athleticism is there to make the plays. Their heads are clearing getting a grasp on Frank Bush's scheme and it's paying off big time. This D has shut out the last three teams it faced in the 2nd half. up next... the lowly inept offense (that put up almost 500 yards).