5 Pro Bowl selections match 5 straight post-season berths

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                        A.J. Green is 5-for-5 for Pro Bowls.

From wide receiver A.J. Green's record-tying fifth straight selection to nine-year safety Reggie Nelson's first trip to Hawaii, Tuesday night's Bengals' Pro Bowl selections marked a historic chapter in the history of the franchise.

After wrapping up their fifth straight post-season berth Sunday, the Bengals matched it with five Pro Bowl selections for the first time since the 2005 AFC North champs. Joining Green and Nelson were left tackle Andrew Whitworth, defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and tight end Tyler Eifert.

And there could be more with quarterback Andy Dalton, left end Carlos Dunlap, and special teamer Cedric Peerman voted first alternates. Adam Jones, who the Bengals widely believe is one of the best cornerbacks in the game, is a seventh alternate.

"I'm excited for our players who have been voted in," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis in a news release.  "They are both thrilled and honored to be recognized.  It's a tribute to their teammates and the organization to have the number selected today and the high alternates.  As the coach, I'm excited for the players making a return trip as well as our two first-time honorees."

Dalton finished third in overall fan voting, but fractured his throwing thumb before the players and coaches voted to complete the process.

Green, the only Bengal to make it in his first five seasons in the league, joined Chad Johnson as the only skilled player to be voted to five straight. Hall-of-Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz went to 11 straight. Even though the Bengals offense has diversified and Green has the fewest targets of the NFL's top ten wide receivers by yardage, he's still sixth with his fifth 1,000-yard season and has the second highest yards per catch of any receiver in the top ten with 15.7.

With his fourth selection Atkins, second among NFL tackles with 10 sacks, becomes only the second Bengals defensive player ever to be named to at least four Pro Bowls.  Cornerback Lemar Parrish went to six during the '70s.

Nelson, acquired in a 2010 cutdown day trade with Jacksonville, leads the league in interceptions with eight and becomes the Bengals' first Pro Bowl safety since David Fulcher in 1990.

"I couldn't be more excited for a guy like Reggie," Whitworth said. "As far as leadership goes, as a teammate, as a guy who just does things the right way. That's cool to get voted in. I'm just pumped for him. If there is anyone out there who deserves it, that dude deserves it."

They've been saying that about Whitworth since he moved to left tackle permanently in 2009 and has consistently graded out as one of the top pass protectors in the league. But this is the first time he's been voted to the team. His lone trip in 2012 came as an alternate. He and Atkins were the two Bengals that led their positions in fan voting.

"It's awesome to be voted in. It means a lot to have that respect from your fans, your peers, and people you play the game with," said Whitworth, ranked the fourth best tackle in the league by profootballfocus.com.

"I still think the system could be better. It's still a nice honor to have, but I don't think any player out there should put on it whether you're a good football player or not. The eye in the sky tells them that. What the film says is what you should go by. I truly believe that."

Eifert, 25, their youngest Pro Bowler, certainly has the numbers to make his first trip in his third season. His 12 touchdowns are a Bengals record for tight ends and he led the NFL in scoring for much of this season until a pinched nerve and concussion knocked him out of all but one drive in the last three games.

Dalton has a good shot of going to his third Pro Bowl, tying Boomer Esiason for second most all-star berths by a Bengals quarterback, one behind Ken Anderson's club record. If a player isn't cleared because of injury or is on one of the Super Bowl teams, he'll be replaced.

All six quarterbacks selected are on play-off bound teams: Seattle's Russell Wilson, Arizona's Carson Palmer, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Carolina's Cam Newton, New England's Tom Brady, and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger. It's Palmer's first selection since he went as a Bengal in 2005 and 2006 and was named MVP the second time.

With the game set for Sunday, Jan. 31 (7 p.m.-ESPN) at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Dalton's status is also going to be determined by injury.

Earlier Tuesday, Dalton said the idea is to be playing in the Super Bowl.

"Hopefully we're playing a week later. So we'll see what happens," said Dalton, who hoped to get voted in.  "You know you made it. The other times, it's just that you got in because somebody else didn't play. So it means more to actually make it. At the end of the day, you're still playing the game regardless. But it's a cool experience. To be voted in right off the bat means more."

Dalton, who led the NFL in passing when he got hurt and is now third, had some advice for the first—timers.

"Enjoy it. Have fun," he said. "That's the time to relax and time to just have a reward for what you've done through the year. So have as much fun as you can."

Dunlap, looking for his first berth, leads the Bengals with a personal-best 10.5 sacks to go with two blocked field goals. Peerman would be the Bengals' first special teams cover player to go to the Pro Bowl. He's among the NFL's leaders with a team-high 10 tackles and two assists in the kicking game.

Players are assigned to teams headed by Hall of Fame wide receivers Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice during the 2016 Pro Bowl Draft on Wednesday, Jan. 27 (8 p.m.-ESPN2), where   Team Irvin and Team Rice choose their teams.

 

Cincinnati Bengals travel to take on the San Francisco 49ers in week 15 of the regular season.

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