Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green may get the most national publicity – and rightfully so – but the Bengals’ offense wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the contributions of its two-headed rushing attack.
Second-year pro Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill have combined to give Cincinnati the league’s seventh-ranked ground game. The Bengals enter Sunday’s contest in Tampa Bay averaging 125.6 rushing yards per game. Hill is ranked 16th in the NFL with 643 yards and six touchdowns and Bernard is 22nd with 491 yards and five scores.
As Tampa Bay has struggled to get any of its multiple running backs going this season, Cincinnati’s tandem has done just fine sharing the load. Bernard is averaging 15.8 touches a game and Hill gets 11.9. They split carries almost evenly (17 and 18, respectively) during last week’s 22-13 win over the Houston Texans.
The Buccaneers are currently tied for 19th in the NFL in rushing defense (115.8 yards per game) and did a decent job bottling up versatile Bears back Matt Forte last Sundy (23 carries for 89 yards and two TDs). Tampa Bay hasn’t surrendered a 100-yard rusher since Baltimore’s Justin Forsett went for 111 during the Ravens’ 48-17 rout at Raymond James Stadium in Week 6. Washington’s Alfred Morris came close two weekends ago, picking up 96 yards on 20 attempts.
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