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    Young Bengals picking up playoff steam

    Mention the last time the Cincinnati Bengals faced the San Diego Chargers, nearly two years ago, and Andrew Whitworth chuckles. The Bengals put a 34 20 thumping on the visitors Dec. 26, 2010,authentic nhl jerseys 166, dousing the Chargers’ hopes for the playoffs.

    As the Bengals head into Sunday’s game at San Diego carrying playoff hopes of their own, the grizzled left tackle is a bit amused when considering just how much has changed in just two seasons.

    Whitworth will start his 62nd consecutive game on Sunday, representing the longest such current streak on the team. He’s the rock of an O line that has been refashioned like much of the team, with a rookie starting at right guard (Kevin Zeitler), and a second year pro at left guard (Clint Boling). Center Jeff Faine has been around, in his 10th NFL campaign, but he’s in his first season with Cincinnati.

    Says Whitworth, “It’ll be pretty much a whole new offensive line this time.”

    Amid all the rebuilding, the Bengals (6 5) are hot with a three game winning streak. Green. Dalton has thrown nine TDs (with no picks) during the past three games. Green is tied with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski for the NFL lead with 10 receiving TDs.

    The defense, meanwhile, is developing with young impact players, too, including third year tackle Geno Atkins and fourth year linebacker Rey Maualuga. Atkins is tied for sixth in the league with nine sacks, more than any interior lineman.

    They are growing up fast, entering the final month of the season in the thick of the hunt for an AFC wild card berth with the Indianapolis Colts (7 4) and Pittsburgh Steelers (6 5).

    Are they ready to withstand the pressure of a playoff push?

    “You never know until we get into these situations,” Whitworth says. “The games will get more pressure filled as we go. A lot of times, seasons are blake griffin jersey defined by what cheap authentic nhl jerseys happens after Thanksgiving. So we’ll see.

    “The cool thing is, the truth is, these young guys are going to get better every game. But until you prove it, that can go one way or another.”

    This isn’t the first time this season that the Bengals have had a three game winning streak. After getting crushed in a Monday night opener by the Baltimore Ravens, they rebounded to win the rest of their September games. Yet they followed that surge with a four game losing skid. You can wonder if such a reversal can happen again now, with a tough schedule ahead and all the playoff ramifications.

    After Sunday’s game,cheap nfl jerseys china, the Bengals will host the Dallas Cowboys and visit the Philadelphia Eagles for a Thursday nighter. They close out with back to back AFC North challenges at Pittsburgh and against the Ravens.

    Whitworth believes his team is better equipped than nhl jersey size chart it was earlier this season to avoid a prolonged stumble.

    “We kind of lived a little off our ability earlier in the year, and I think we started to feel really good about ourselves when we had that first winning streak,” Whitworth said. “That’s a lesson we had to learn. The coolest thing about this now is that all of the wins have been complete wins, with the offense, defense and special teams playing well. That’s the difference.”

    A few weeks ago, nhl jerseys cheap Bengals coach Marvin Lewis made it a point to publicly call out a couple of his young stars, Dalton and Maualuga, imploring them to exert more leadership. Whitworth says he hasn’t seen much of a change with the quarterback and middle linebacker, whom he considers lead by example types. But Lewis may have struck nerves with for more far reaching impact.

    “It was kind of really a call to the whole team,cheap nfl jerseys china,” said Whitworth. “Everybody needs to be accountable. Andy and Rey are the guys who will lead this team, but I think the real message was that all the guys need to step up.”

    Whitworth, with all of his experience, demonstrated some of his leadership last week during the victory against the Oakland Raiders. He was ejected after getting involved in mlb jerseys a scuffle that began when Lamarr Houston dumped Dalton to the turf after a play was whistled dead. After peace was restored, Whitworth stirred up the crowd at Paul Brown Stadium with a WWF like pose before heading to an early shower.

    It was his way of demonstrating that he was proud to get tossed since it meant having the back of his quarterback.

    “Sometimes, as a leader for a young team, you have to send a message,” he said. “My thing was, we’re not going to let people take a free shot on our quarterback. Sometimes, you have to draw the line in the sand.”

    You can believe that Whitworth has received plenty of reaction since that incident. At midweek, teammates were still giving him props.

    “Really, I think more defensive guys have told me, best nhl jerseys ‘That moment was awesome,mlb custom jerseys 403,’ than anybody,” he said. “I think things like that bring us all closer together as a team. Guys can rally around that stuff.”

    That and the playoff hunt looming as an ultimate test.

    Also in play for Week 13

    Who’s hot Aldon Smith: Every big time defense needs a prolific pass rusher. And for the San Francisco 49ers’ second ranked unit, the second year Missouri product fits the bill. Since the sack became an official NFL statistic in 1982, no player has tallied 30 career sacks faster than the outside linebacker. Smith, who leads the NFL with 16 sacks nfl jerseys cheap and has 30 career sacks, hit the milestone in 27 games. With his next sack,cheap nfl jerseys china, he would surpass Reggie White’s mark (31) for most sacks by a player in his first two seasons. And while he’s at it, Smith can also legitimately aim at the single season record set by Michael Strahan (22 in 2001).

    Pressure’s on Mike Munchak: When the second year Tennessee Titans coach gave offensive coordinator Chris Palmer the boot last week, it may have underscored the urgency to develop a contender. It might have also been a sacrifice, with Munchak serving up a scapegoat for the issues at hand. A few weeks ago, Titans owner Bud Adams was so disenchanted by his team’s showing during a blowout loss at home to the Chicago Bears he bolted early and grumbled about it. The message was clear: Everyone is on notice. There are seemingly no promises that Adams will stick with his head coach for the long run. Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard for the franchise, knows Adams well. And he knows that the owner is antsy harrison barnes jersey to field a contender. Now comes the tough task of defeating the Houston Texans, who will bring an AFC best 10 1 mark to LP Field on Sunday. A poor showing could incite Adams eric bledsoe jersey further. He jason kidd jersey still lives in Houston, and the success of the Texans is right in his face. The new offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains, will likely have to dial up plenty of points to keep Tennessee in the game and demonstrate that Munchak made the right move.

    On the couch Norv Turner: What are the odds that you’d lose a game when your defense can’t stop a check down pass on fourth and 29? Just when it appeared things couldn’t get much worse for the Chargers coach whose squad already lost a game to the Denver Broncos this season after blowing a 24 0 lead the overtime loss to Baltimore last weekend was enabled by Ray Rice’s incredibly long jaunt through the San Diego defense. Mathematically, the Chargers (4 7) are still alive for a playoff berth. Realistically, they’re finished, doomed to miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season. The clock is ticking on Turner’s tenure.

    Rookie revue Janoris Jenkins: The last time the Rams faced the 49ers, three weeks ago in San Francisco, the big play cornerback was a no show scratched by coach Jeff Fisher for violating an undisclosed team rule during the road trip. Now Jenkins gets a do over against the 49ers at the Eddie Jones Dome, riding a wave of glory after last weekend after becoming just the fourth rookie in league history to produce two interceptions returned for touchdowns in a game. That’s one way to get back into the good graces of Fisher, who went out on a limb to take Jenkins in the second round in April (39th overall) after some teams removed him from their draft boards as a character risk. Whatever caused Jenkins to get deactivated for the game in early November reminds us that there were issues attached to the Northern Alabama product. Yet his impact plays against the Arizona Cardinals last week demonstrated why Jenkins was widely considered a first round talent.

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