Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

December 6, 2012

AARON SNYDER: Lewis' bite timed right as Bengals take flight

ASHLAND — Marvin Lewis has been like a spider to Bengals fans. Just as the angst-ridden thoughts of being bitten or crawled upon creepily overwhelm you into panic mode, he reminds you that he preys on pesty insects and prevents them from invading your home.

While the losing poison of Bengals past penetrated Cincinnati during Lewis’ tenure — 4-11-1 in 2008; 4-12 in ’09 — the 10th-year coach has also been able to supply the antidote several times in the form of three playoff appearances (2005, ’09, ’11).

Cincinnati is finally regaining the respect it had around the NFL when Sam Wyche was at the helm.

Sitting at 3-4 and teetering on the side of another impending dropoff to doom, Lewis decided to sink his teeth into the core of this club — the leader of the offense and the leader of the defense — back in October, around Halloween.

That decision, in particular, should thrust Lewis into Coach of the Year discussions heading into the fourth quarter of the season, in my opinion.

It’s been five weeks since the coach called out quarterback Andy Dalton and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga.

In that span, the team is 4-1. They’ve won four straight and are sitting at 7-5, right in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt.

The offense has been efficient around Dalton, also with the help of a solidifying running game led by BenJarvus Green-Ellis — the former Patriot has racked up three consecutive 100-yard games on the ground.

With Maualuga at the center, the defense has allowed two offensive touchdowns over the past four games.

Before a Week 12 34-10 romp of the Raiders, Lewis rewarded Dalton and Maualuga with C’s stitched onto their jerseys. It marked the first time that the coach had named permanent captains since the 2010 season.

Statistics during the streak:

‰Offense: 80 of 128 (62.5 percent) for 850 yards passing with 10 TDs and two interceptions; 132 attempts for 614 yards rushing with four TDs.

‰Defense: 207.3 passing yards allowed per game; 96.8 rushing yards relented per game; 10.5 points given up per game.

Another impressive note about the defense: Those two aforementioned TDs given up by the defense in these four games were a late fourth-quarter TD by the Giants and a late third-quarter score by Oakland. No Cincinnati opponent has found the end zone in the first half since Denver in Week 9.

The defensive line has been tremendous. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his two-sack, two-forced fumble performance in San Diego.

The Cowboys will try to test that pass defense with the combination of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

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