Although he played just 13 snaps before heading into concussion protocol, rotational defensive end Khalid Kareem emerged from Sunday's 15-10 victory over the Broncos with not only a game ball, but Pro Football Focus' top grade for a Bengals defense that pitched one of its strongest games of the year.
He got the ball for getting the ball, ripping it out of the arms of Broncos quarterback Drew Lock on an ill-advised read of the zone read at the Bengals 9 with 10 and a half minutes left and the Broncos about to go up 16-15.
No good deed goes unpunished. As Kareem rumbled with the ball to the Bengals 42, Broncos left tackle Garett Boles hammered him in the head looking to get the ball out, which he did. But Kareem was ruled down back at the 15, where Lock contacted him trying to get it back.
Karma visited Bolles, though, in the last four minutes of the game, when he was called twice for holding Bengals sack ace Trey Hendrickson. So how Hendrickson was rated last among Bengals defenders by PFF is a tough one to figure.
He not only had a third-down stop in coverage on running back Javante Williams for a yard loss, but he teamed with defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi for a half sack that extend his streak to 10 straight games with at least a half sack. That's two games shy of the NFL record the Titans' Jevon "The Freak" Kearse set across two seasons at the turn of the century, according to Elias.
Ogunjobi is going to be glad about that. When the media wondered after Sunday's game if just having half a sack snapped his streak, Ogunjobi stated his case.
"A sack is a sack," he said.
Kareem's strip came courtesy of an all-out blitz as the Bengals loaded up on second and 9 in the low red zone, as they say.
"We were reading the 'C,' reading the (defensive) end. They brought cover-zero, the box was stuffed, and I took it upon myself to take the ball," said Lock who invoked the name of Broncos quarterbacks coach Mike Shula.
"Typically when the end shuffles down negative, you kind of have an advantage on them. Kind of shuffled down and came up the field just a little bit enough to where I wasn't actually able to get outside of him. You know, Shula says it a couple times in the meeting rooms, when in doubt, give it to the professionals. I'm a professional thrower, not necessarily a professional runner. I should have handed that thing off to Javonte looking back at it, but also if I run that thing into the end zone, make the defensive end miss, who knows what is being said right now."
MONEY MAC: Fresh off his Bengals record 58-yard field goal, rookie kicker Evan McPherson has a titanic matchup waiting with Ravens perennial Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. With nine field goals of at least 50 yards, he's not only one 50 away from tying the rookie record set by Blair Walsh in 2012, he's also one away from the NFL record of also 10 held by Tucker, Walsh and Brandon McManus.
It was McManus, of all people, who missed a 51-yarder with nine seconds left in the first half Sunday and allowed McPherson to get a shot at the record.
Which may cost head coach Zac Taylor. Even though McPherson's No. 2 jersey is apparently not easy to get. McPherson got a text from Taylor after his last snap field goal beat the Jags on Sept. 30.
"'You've got both of my kids asking for one of your jerseys, thanks a lot! Now I've got to go buy two of your jerseys!' McPherson recalled after the game. "I've asked him and his wife, 'Did you get them their jerseys yet?'. But apparently, they're hard to come by."
View some additional snapshots from the Cincinnati Bengals 15-10 victory over the Denver Broncos.