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Running the rush numbers


Running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 148 yards against the Browns in Cleveland last year.

Remain calm.

That was Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's advice this week when it came to the Bengals running game.

"It will click when we're ready to put the click in. I'm not concerned about it," Jackson said. "I can't tell you anything strategy-wise. But we all know when it's time to run, we'll run. We know how to."

The numbers back up Jackson. Since the Green-Dalton Bengals were formed in 2011, whether the running back has been Cedric Benson, or BenJarvus Green-Ellis, or Giovani Bernard or Jeremy Hill, the Bengals have run the ball more and better in November and December than September and October.

At the moment, the Bengals are averaging 116 yards per game on the ground with 29 carries at a 3.9 clip. From 2011-14 in September and October, the Bengals averaged 28 carries for 108 yards at 3.8 yards per carry. Compare that to their work in November and December, which computes to 31 carries per game for an average of 127 yards on 4.1 yards per carry.

After the Bengals threw it 15 more times than they ran it on Sunday, (including three straight times from the Steelers 5 for two incompletions and a pick), there are those wondering if the Bengals can re-capture the No.  6 running game in the league last season. And there is the quintessential Andy Dalton stat. Since he's been here and the Bengals have run it at least 30 times, they are 35-3-1.

But Jackson is preaching patience as well as winning.

"I know everyone wants to run the ball more," Jackson said. "My job is to win. I'm not trying to make anybody happy . . . When they say W. When they say the Cincinnati Bengals are 7-0, that's all I care about. The rest I deal with it. I get it. I know what we are.

"They're very physical and very fast,' Jackson said of the Steelers. "They can make you look bad at times and they can make you look good. Maybe from a strategy standpoint I could have done some things differently. But at the end of the day, it gave us a chance to win."

It was this time last year when Jackson clicked the run into gear, starting with Hill's break-through 154-yard game against the Jaguars on Nov. 2 that began Hill's 1,000-yard roll that made him the NFL's leading rusher in the last nine games. In that stretch the Bengals averaged 152 yards per game on 33 carries at 4.6 yards per clip.

Hill is mired at 3.3 yards per carry and Bernard is the club's leading rusher at 5.6 yards, yet Hill had 15 carries Sunday for 60 yards that included his two longest runs of the season. Meanwhile, Bernard had one carry. And if you can find any other leading rusher in the NFL that didn't say a word after getting one carry, good luck.

"One for 12 yards. Good average," Bernard said. "That's all I care about is the average. That's what you want as a running back and make the most of your opportunities.

"That's how this offense rolls. As long as we win. Whatever it takes."

Jackson liked the looks of Hill as he tries to bust out again.

"I started to see the player he is," Jackson said. "It's showing up. It's time. We've had those conversations . . . The arrow is headed up."

Hill fumbled twice in the second week of the season, but Jackson doesn't think that's been a problem.

"I just think guys get enamored with other things," Jackson said. "I have a lot of respect for Jeremy. I helped draft Jeremy. I know what he is. At the same time, he's a young man, it's his second year in the league and you get inundated with other stuff and I just think sometimes you have to re-focus yourself."

This is the night to do it. It's the elephant in the stadium. The Bengals are facing the worst run defense in the league, the one they lanced back in December in Cleveland for 244 yards on the ground with Hill getting 148 of them.

The Bengals running game has been why the Bengals have dominated the series, 20-12, since the Browns came back into the NFL in 1999. Hill is the sixth different 100-yard rusher in that stretch.

But Jackson isn't going to tell you when the run is going to click in.

"It's going to be 65 degrees Thursday," said Jackson of the throwing weather. "Nuts and bolts, we're a physical group. At some point you'll see that and be happy about it."

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