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Posts Tagged ‘Adam Vinatieri.’

Bengals lose to Baltimore; make AFC playoffs as sixth seed with Clements as key figure

 

Nate Clements Bengals in 2011 (photo by Jeffrey Beall via wikipedia commons)

Eventhough the Cincinnati Bengals lost their final game to the Baltimore Ravens, the team still will be amongst the top 6 in the AFC Playoffs next weekend as the sixth seed.

The Bengals received help on Sunday when the Jets, Raiders and Broncos all lost but they earned the wildcard spot in a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tennessee Titans, the only other AFC team with that same record of 9-7. The Bengals beat the Titans at Tennessee in November, 24-17. That’s why every game in the NFL is important.

They’ll be traveling to Houston to play the 10-6 Texans who they lost two three weeks ago in the final seconds.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton, who is from the Houston area, is 3-0 in Reliant Stadium home of the Texans. He played there during his college career at TCU.

Cincinnati defied all the odds playing with a rookie QB and won 9 games even after trading away veteran signal-caller Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders.

One of the reasons the Bengals made the playoffs was the play of former Ohio State defensive back Nate Clements, who they signed in the off-season to release Johnathan Joseph who bolted for Houston after the team had a losing season in 2010.

The 32-year-old native of the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, had never made the playoffs as his career has taken him to Buffalo and San Francisco after being drafted in the first round at #21 by the Bills in 2001.

Clements felt the Bengals, even being a young team had a chance at the playoffs and he was right.

The 2011 free agent signee who has been a standout player in the Cincinnati secondary this season, missed only one game with a hamstring injury he suffered in practice on December 1.

After sitting out the December 4 Pittsburgh game, he has been back at the Left cornerback spot the past three games against Houston, St. Louis and Arizona.

Clements was not fully healed for the December 11 game vs. the Texans, and he had just one tackle in very limited action. But returned to his big-play capabilities on December 18 at St. Louis, and also on December 24 vs. Arizona.

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Clements has made big plays all season:

* On October 16 against Indianapolis, he blocked a 52-yard FG attempt by Adam Vinatieri with 5;43 to play. Also in the opening quarter of the game, he forced a fumble by Colts TE Dallas Clark.

* On October 30 at Seattle, Clements stopped a two-point try by stripping the ball from WR Ben Obomanu in the end zone.

* On November 6 at Tennessee with under four minutes to play, and the Bengals up 21-17, Clements separated TE Jared Cook from the ball and recovered it at the Titans 20. From there, the Bengals scored a field goal for the final margin of 24-17.

* On November 27 vs. Cleveland, with the score 20-20, Clements ripped the ball away from WR Greg Little for an incompletion which would’ve given the Browns a first down. It forced the Browns to kick a 55-yard field goal which missed and the Bengals started their game-winning drive on their 45-yard line.

* On December 18 at St. Louis, Clements was responsible for making four, huge third down plays that caused the Rams to punt on three of them and kick a field goal on another.

* On December 24, against Arizona, his second-quarter interception against John Skelton set up the Bengals TD drive for a 17-0 lead.

With Right cornerback Leon Hall going down with an injury a few games ago, the free agent signing of Clements has been huge for Cincinnati’s defense.