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The play's the thing
December 5, 2016 02:06 PM | Geoff Hobson
Shawn Williams got a pick Sunday when he took it off the hands of fellow safety George Iloka.

One of the Bengals said it after last week's loss in Baltimore.

"We're playing football," he said. "But we're not making plays."

Enter left end Carlos Dunlap's four tipped passes, WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict's two interceptions and wide receiver Cody Core's 50-yard catch and the four-game winless streak evaporated Sunday in a 32-14 win over the Eagles at Paul Brown Stadium.

Four games left at 4-7-1 with the Ravens or the Steelers needing just two more wins to deny the Bengals a sixth straight postseason.

"Make it interesting. Why not?" asked cornerback Adam Jones. "I think we will (make a run). That's my opinion. I don't care what anyone else thinks."

But they were saying the same thing on the other side of the ball.

"Why not?" asked right tackle Eric Winston said. "We've got the players here."

They were also agreeing on the sheer play-making of Burfict after he had another monster game with 15 tackles and two second-half interceptions of Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and what he means to a defense giving up 17.5 points per in the four games since Wembley.

"That guy was an animal today," said cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. "He came to play today. But like everybody says, we feed off his energy. He's a great teammate. (He's) very emotional and we love him. He got me going today."

Dunlap set up Burfict's first interception with a tip of one of Wentz's career-high 60 passes, the third most passes ever against Cincinnati. Only Elvis Grbac (63) and Phil Simms and Joe Flacco (62) had more. And they lost, too.

"He leads (the team) in tackles and he didn't (play) in three games. He's the league's best at his position," Dunlap said of Burfict. "He gives us a second heart beat."

The heart is about where Burfict grabbed his second interception against the stunned Wentz. As Burfict blitzed late in the game, he leaped when he saw Wentz firing a live tracer over the middle and he plucked it before it bounced off his numbers and raced 47 away yards to set up the Bengals' final score in a remarkable play.

Vontaze Burfict had 15 tackles Sunday afer back-to-back games of 13.

"I just jumped and caught it. I made a great play," said Burfict matter-of-factly. "We all feed off of each other. Vinny (Rey) makes plays, Karlos (Dansby) makes plays. We feed off that. I thought I personally started off slow, and then Vinny and Karlos made plays, so I had to rise to the occasion. He gave me energy and I just passed it along."

Burfict said he felt like he woke up the flu but it was Wentz he made sick. He came in with only eight picks and left with 11 after the worst day of his career and the Bengals' first three- interception game since Dec. 20 in San Francisco.

"It's game day. We come in here every day and practice. Sunday's are different. We just have to feed off each other," Burfict said. "It took a little bit of time, but I got my energy up in the first quarter."

It was a day where the laughs came easier than normal. Ending losing streaks will do that. When someone asked Burfict if he thought he would take the second pick all the way before getting knocked out of bounds by Wentz, Dansby, his locker mate, gave him an opening.

"Say it," Dansby said, laughing.

"I told Karlos, 'Come on, come block,'' Burfict said, laughing. "But he didn't block anybody. I blame him."

Seriously, the Bengals blanked the Eagles until 2:30 left in the third quarter by taking the wraps off the blitz knowing the Eagles receivers weren't going to gouge them and while they sacked him just once they hit him 10 times. It sent Wentz struggling through his progressions

"We were blitzing for most of the time. I feel like everybody did a good job of keeping him out of the pocket," Burfict said. "We're tired of people saying we start off slow and give up scores on the first drive. We did a good job this week focusing on the little details and route concepts."

He also said they kept an eye on running back Darren Sproles ("They love to throw him screens, they love to run the draw."), and Sproles didn't catch his six balls for just 35 yards until the second half.

"Don't let him get comfortable," Dunlap said of the strategy on Wentz. "He's new to this league. Try to rattle him and just keep rattling him all day."

And Dunlap did the major rattling playing against a transplanted guard at right tackle. He had half a sack and two hits on Wentz, but everybody was talking about his four tips. The one that ended in Burfict's first pick looked like he batted it out of Wentz's hands and somehow the ball reached Burfict 10 yards down field.

"I chopped down on the ball. It's questionably a sack fumble, but the ball went 10 yards down field. I hacked it down. I don't know how it went forward. But Tez caught it, turnover for the defense.

Dunlap's strategy on tips is pretty simple, too. It paid off Sunday because he said the Eagles helped out the left guard playing right tackle, Alan Barbre, with chips.

"The quarterback has a clock, too," Dunlap said. "If I can't get there before he throws it, jump and get the hand up. One hand off, one hand up."

It was a day for laughs, though. Dunlap swore he saw someone else chase Burfict down the sideline just before Wentz got him out of bounds.

His guy Barbre.

"He was pretty quick," Dunlap said with a glint in his eye. "Did you see him catch Tez?"



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