BALTIMORE, Maryland – A.J. Green doesn't have eyes in the back of helmet, even if 227 yards might make one think otherwise. So the Cincinnati Bengals' star receiver did not see one of the biggest reasons why he was able to beat three Baltimore Ravens into the end zone on his 80-yard touchdown catch and run: Giovani Bernard stonewalling a blitzing Elvis Dumervil.
On that play, as Andy Dalton set himself to deliver that perfect strike, the Bengals' running back kicked outside of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and stood up one of the league's premier pass rushers, a linebacker who just one play earlier had left Tyler Eifert on his knees en route to a sack and fumble that resulted in a C.J. Mosley 41-yard touchdown return.
"Man, Gio is probably one of the toughest guys on this team," Green said. "Quietly, one of the toughest guys. That guy plays his butt off every day, practices his butt off every day, so when something like that happens it doesn't really surprise me because he just going to give it his all, no matter how big the guy is."
It wasn't the ideal matchup, of course, but it had to be won by the third-year back. Even if he was ceding 50 pounds at the point of contact, Bernard didn't go low on Dumervil.
He went pad-for-pad, pound-for-pound.
"You just gotta pick up some protections that may not be the right way, that may not happen the way it was supposed to, but sometimes you've just gotta kind of (man up) and kind of pick up the blitz," Bernard said.
For the second straight week, the Bengals turned to Bernard as their feature back in the offense late in the Bengals' 28-24 victory, but it was his versatility – and physicality – that stood out.
"We talked about that during the week that there are going to be certain times when they give us those exotic looks and when we're going to have to be stuck on him and we're going to be able to make a fight on him," said Jeremy Hill, who watched the play develop from the Bengals' sideline. "That was big by (Bernard)."
Added Dalton: "Gio is a complete back. He's able to do that in the passing game. That's what makes him so good. Not only when the ball's in his hands, but knowing when to pick up guys that are coming."
Bernard finished with a game-high 49 yards rushing on 13 attempts and also caught three passes for 34 yards, but it was the play that won't appear in the box score that will stand out.
"Things are going to happen like that," Bernard said. "If they're going to bring the blitz we know there are one-on-ones outside with our receivers and we have such talented receivers out there that if you give them the time, if you give Andy the time, that they're going to find each other and connect big."
Jim Owczarski | Cincinnati.com | September 27, 2015