Bengals Sign Safety George Iloka to a Five-Year Deal

George Iloka

The Bengals are keeping one of their high profile free agents, as the team has come to terms on a five-year deal with safety George Iloka.

The Lions had major interest in Iloka, but instead he will come back home instead of testing the open market. The 25-year-old has been solid over his time with the Bengals, and still has growing to do with his physical style of play.

Bengals Have Solid Super Bowl Chances in 2016; But Plenty of Work to Do Also

Marvin Lewis

The Bengals are in another offseason of chaos after the just mind-numbing loss to the rival Steelers in the AFC Wild Card game after it appeared they had the game win in the final minutes.

Sure linebacker Vontaze Burfict came out this week and told ESPN all the right things about the hit at the end of the game that basically cost the team, but it’s too little, too late.

“Like I told coach [Marvin Lewis], I wish I could take that play back because I probably would’ve hit him low,” Burfict said in his first public comments about the incident.

He’ll miss the first three games due to suspension, and now the team also has to look at what’s coming up this offseason as they get ready for what they hope will be another run at Super Bowl LI in early 2017.

As of the time of writing, team currently is 16/1 to win the Super Bowl according to William Hill – the best of all betting sites. While it’s not bad odds, some think the team is headed for a fall due to the free agents the team has and the massive emotional toll the team has taken after playoff loss after playoff loss.

The team has the 8th amount of cap space right now, but also has 15 free agents, 14 of which are unrestricted, that will hit the market in early March. Eight of the free agents were regular starters or played the majority of snaps, meaning if those players leave, they have a lot of work to do.

“We’ve had more free agents in other years,” head coach Marvin Lewis said. “When I looked, it wasn’t as many as I expected, so I do feel good about things. I think the core is here, I think positionally we’re in good shape.”

Starting slot receiver Mohamed Sanu and receiver Marvin Jones are both free agents, meaning if both bail the team will need to make up for it.

One report has the team eyeing Bears free agent to be wide out Alshon Jeffery as a target of the Bengals, which is a huge free agent splash, but is that the player they need?

No matter what the Bengals do, it will be a critical offseason for sure as the team looks to make another run at the AFC North and yet another run at reaching the Super Bowl.

Vontaze Burfict Says He Wish He Could Take the Hit on Antonio Brown Back

Vontaze Burfict

Following the bizarre turn of events that cost the Bengals their Wild Card Playoff game against the Steelers, linebacker Vontaze Burfict finally had his say in an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

Burfict said in the interview that he needs to change his style of play, but he probably would not have been flagged for his hit to the head of Steelers wide out Antonio Brown in the closing minute if his reputation hadn’t preceded him.

“Like I told coach [Marvin Lewis], I wish I could take that play back because I probably would’ve hit him low,” Burfict said in his first public comments about the incident.

“I don’t like hitting low, but I have to change because it’s getting flags because I hit him high or hit him in the helmet, and it’s so hard to determine where to hit the offender because they’re gonna tuck their body, and you have to pretty much tuck with them.”

The Bengals linebacker was suspended and will have to sit for the first three games of 2016, for what the NFL said was “repeated violations of player-safety rules.”

The NFL cited the hit on Brown as the final straw leading to the suspension. Burfict hit Brown after Brown couldn’t catch a pass that was overthrown from Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger with 22 seconds left.

The hit resulted in a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness, and after corner Adam Jones got another penalty for touching an official, the Steelers were able to convert an easy field goal for the win to move on in the postseason.

Burfict told Anderson that he takes responsibility for the hit. “I tried to pull up at the last second, but it was obviously too late — it’s a bang-bang play,” Burfict said.

“I play hard. Sometimes it gets me in trouble,” he said. “My style of play is aggressive, and [the game has] changed, and I have to change with it, and that play right there, I think if I wasn’t number 55, I wouldn’t have got flagged.”

Bengals Injured QB Dalton Has Yet to Resume Throwing

Dalton-Bengals-Patriots

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has not resumed throwing yet according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com.

It’s not like he has a big game to prepare for or needs to get ready soon for training camp. “Not throwing yet because we are being very conservative with it,” said Dalton in a text message earlier this week. “I feel like I can throw but no reason to push anything right now.” Dalton was having his best season before a broken thumb ended it in Week 14. He should be ready for OTAs.

Perhaps a bigger concern for the Bengals offense is the loss of innovative coordinator Hue Jackson, who seemed to bring out the best in Dalton. Jackson will trying to bring some of that magic as head coach of the Browns in 2016.

London Preview: Bengals vs. Redskins

Bengals To Play In The UK

In just 10 months time, the Bengals will make the dive across the pond for their debut match in London, where they’ll face-off against the Redskins at Wembley Stadium. Now although it’s still a long time until the match, for fans wanting to travel to the English capital to see it, now is the time to plan your trip and buy tickets for the game.

There is no kick-off time as of yet, but the match will take place in Week 8 of the season on Sunday October 30th, with tickets being sold on Ticketmaster from January 21st. Some travel packages will be available, and special access to tickets will be given to Bengal season holders. For those who can’t make the flights over, the match will be shown live on Fox Network affiliates. This will include WXIX-TV (Channel 19) in Cincinnati, so there will be plenty of opportunity for all fans to see the match.

Many of the NFL teams have already played in London, indeed by the end of 2016 75% of all teams will have played in the UK. There are even rumors that a London NFL team may happen in the future. The UK is home to an incredibly large number of American Football fans, including Bengals fans, and these fans flock from across the UK to give incredible support for the teams making travelling to an international game a great experience.

The match itself will count as a home game for the Bengals, so next season will see the team only playing seven of their regular season games at Paul Brown Stadium. It is likely that, as this is an international game, the Bengals will get a bye in week 9.

Talking about the upcoming match and going international, Bengals President Mike Brown said the following: “We are proud to be a part of the NFL’s initiative to grow our game abroad, and we believe this game will be a source of pride for Cincinnati as well.”

“It will provide a strong platform for our region’s culture and recent progress,” continued the press release. “And we’ve long known that we have fans in London and the U.K. A number have visited Cincinnati for games over the years. We know they will be out to cheer us on, along with fans from our area who choose to travel to the game.”

Bengals head coach was similarly positive about the future match, “We’re excited to take our team to London and take on the Washington Redskins. We’re proud to show off the NFL game. And we always look for ways to keep a long season fresh and exciting for players. I know our players will respond well to this opportunity.”

Of course, one reason to be excited to visit the UK for a match is down to the phenomenon known as The Post-Wembley Wave. Statistics have shown that every team that has visited Wembley for an international match has returned home to play matches with an improved performance. None more so that the New England Patriots, who after their game against the Rams in 2012 returned home to win their next five games. A record that the Bengals can perhaps look to beat!

Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict Suspended Three Games for Saturday Hit on Brown

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is going to pay for his late hit on Steelers WR Antonio Brown that put the Steelers in field goal range in Saturday’s loss.

Here’s the story from USA Today:

Burfict has been suspended three games for a malicious hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh’s 18-16 win over Cincinnati Saturday in the AFC Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Brown remained on the field, possibly having lost consciousness after the hit, but was able to walk off the field under his own power.

Bengals cornerback Adam Jones said immediately following the game, and again on the Dan Patrick Show Monday, Brown was “faking” the injury, and should be given “an Academy Award and a Grammy” for it.

It appears clearly on replay Burfict’s shoulder and forearm connect with Brown’s head well after an errant pass sailed over Brown at the middle of the field.

Steelers vs Bengals Wednesday Injury Report

Pittsburgh+Steelers+v+Jacksonville+Jaguars+Martavis+Bryant+WR+Getty

PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Practice Report
DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
Wednesday CB William Gay (not injury related), LB James Harrison (not injury related), TE Heath Miller (not injury related), RB DeAngelo Williams (foot), LB Vince Williams (illness)
FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
Wednesday WR Martavis Bryant (neck)
CINCINNATI BENGALS
Practice Report
OUT (DEFINITELY WILL NOT PLAY)
Wednesday DT Brandon Thompson (knee)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
Wednesday QB Andy Dalton (right thumb), TE Ryan Hewitt (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
Wednesday CB Leon Hall (concussion, back)

Steelers vs Bengals AFC Wild Card Capsule

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals

SATURDAY, JANUARY 9, 2016

PITTSBURGH STEELERS–AFC NORTH (10-6) AT CINCINNATI BENGALS–AFC NORTH (12-4)?

SERIES

STEELERS BENGALS
LEADER 56-35
STREAKS 4 of past 5
COACHES VS. OPP. Mike Tomlin: 13-5 Marvin Lewis: 8-18
COACHES PLAYOFF RECORD Mike Tomlin: 5-4 Marvin Lewis: 0-6
VS. COMMON OPP. Pit: 8-4 (Bal 0-2; Cle 2-0; Oak 1-0; SD 1-0; KC 0-1; Den 1-0; Ari 1-0; StL 1-0; SF 1-0; Sea 0-1)

Cin: 10-2 (Bal 2-0; Cle 2-0; Oak 1-0; SD 1-0; KC 1-0; Den 0-1; Ari 0-1; StL 1-0; SF 1-0; Sea 1-0)

PLAYOFF RECORD 33-22 5-13
LAST WEEK W 28-12 at Browns W 24-16 vs. Ravens
LAST GAME 12/13/15: Steelers 33 at Bengals 20. Pittsburgh RB DeAngelo Williams rushes for 76 yards & 2 TDs. Steelers CB William Gay adds 23-yard INT-TD.
LAST GAME AT SITE 12/13/15
LAST PLAYOFF 1/8/06: Steelers 31 at Bengals 17. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger throws for 208 yards & 3 TDs (148.7 passer rating). Steelers WR Cedrick Wilson has 104 rec. yards & TD.
REFEREE John Parry
BROADCAST CBS (8:15 PM ET): Jim Nantz, Phill Simms, Tracy Wolfson (field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Dan Fouts, Laura Okmin (field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Pit), 82 (Cin). XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Pit), 82 (Cin).

STAT LEADERS

PASSING Roethlisberger: 319-469-3938-21-16-94.5 Dalton: 255-386-3250-25-7-106.3 (1C) OR

McCarron: 79-119-854-6-2-97.1

RUSHING D. Williams: 200-907-4.5-11 (T1L) J. Hill: 223-794-3.6-11 (T1L)
RECEIVING Brown: 136 (T1L)-1834 (1C)-13.5-10 Green: 86-1297-15.1-10
OFFENSE 395.4 (1C) 358.0
TAKE/GIVE +2 +11 (3L)
DEFENSE 363.1 340.8
SACKS Heyward: 7 Dunlap: 13.5 (3C)
INTs Mitchell: 3 Nelson: 8 (T1L)
PR Brown: 9.6 Tate: 6.3
KR Wheaton: 21.0 Tate: 22.9
PUNTING Berry: 42.6 Huber: 45.8
KICKING Boswell: 113 (26/27 PAT; 29/32 FG) Nugent: 117 (48/49 PAT; 23/28 FG)


NOTES

TEAMS MEET for 2nd time in postseason. Steelers defeated Bengals 31-17 in Wild Card Playoff on 1/8/06. Pit. leads all-time regular-season series 56-35 & clubs split 2015 season series.

STEELERS: Have 33-22 (.600) all-time postseason record, 2nd all-time in total playoff wins & 4th all-time in win pct. Need 1 playoff win to tie Dallas (34) for most all-time. In 2005, became 1st No. 6 seed in NFL history to win SB (XL vs. Seahawks). Set NFL record for 2-point conversions in single season, converting 8 of 11 attempts in 2015…QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER led NFL with 328.2 passing yards per game in 2015 (3,938 yards in 12 games), 3rd-highest single-season average in NFL history. Has 10-5 career postseason record. Has 11-2 record at Cincinnati (including playoffs) & has passed for 3,010 yards with 19 TDs vs. 9 INTs for 98.1 rating. In 1/8/06 playoff meeting, completed 14 of 19 (73.7 percent) for 208 yards with 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 148.7 passer rating…RB DE ANGELO WILLIAMS tied for 1st in NFL with 11 rush TDs & ranked 3rd amongst AFC RBs with 1,274 scrimmage yards in 2015. In past 8, is averaging 112.1 scrimmage yards per game & has 8 rush TDs…WR ANTONIO BROWN had career-best 136 catches, tied for 2nd-most in single season in NFL history, & ranked 2nd in the NFL with franchise-record 1,834 receiving yards. Led NFL with 129 catches in 2014 & his 265 receptions in past 2 seasons are most of any 2-year span in history. 1 of 2 in NFL history with back-to-back 120-catch seasons (HOFer CRIS CARTER). Led team with 10 TD catches & joined HINES WARD (2002-03) as only Steelers with consecutive 10-TD catch seasons. WR MARTAVIS BRYANT has 16 TDs in 22 career games (including playoffs). Had 5 catches for 61 yards & TD in only career playoff game (1/3/15 Wild Card vs. Ravens). TE HEATH MILLER has 46 career postseason catches & needs 6 to surpass KEITH JACKSON (51) for 5th-most by TE in playoff history…In 13 career playoff games, LB JAMES HARRISON has 6.5 sacks & 100-yard INT-TD (SB XLIII vs. Az.), tied for 2nd-longest in playoff history. LB LAWRENCE TIMMONS led team with 119 tackles. Since 2007, is only NFL player with 30+ sacks (33) & 10+ INTs (10). S MIKE MITCHELL led team with 3 INTs & had career-best 9 PDs…Club had 3 players selected to 2016 Pro Bowl (QB Roethlisberger, WR Brown, G DAVID DE CASTRO).

BENGALS: Club has reached postseason for 7th time under head coach MARVIN LEWIS (2005, 2009, 2011-2015) & makes franchise-record 5th consecutive playoff appearance. Bengals aim for 1st postseason win since 1/6/91 against Houston Oilers (Wild Card). Tied franchise-record for regular-season wins (12)…QB ANDY DALTON has 50-26-1 (.656) record, highest win pct. of any Bengals QB (min. 20 starts). Has 24 career road wins, most of any starting QB in Super Bowl era in 1st 5 NFL seasons. In past 4, QB AJ MC CARRON has completed 76 of 115 (66.1 pct.) for 832 yards with 6 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 97.4 rating, incl. 280 yards & 2 TDs vs. Steelers in Week 14…RB JEREMY HILL tied for 1st in NFL with 11 rush TDs & led team with 794 rush yards. Has 6 rush TDs in past 7, including 96 yards & 1 TD last week vs. Ravens. Has 20 career rush TDs, most ever by Bengal in 1st 2 NFL seasons. RB GIOVANI BERNARD averages 85 scrimmage yards in 2 career postseason games…Since entering NFL in 2011, WR A.J. GREEN has 6,171 receiving yards, 5th-most of any player in 1st 5 seasons. Led team with 1,297 receiving yards & joined CHAD JOHNSON (6, 2002-07) as only Bengals with at least 5 consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. 1 of 2 players in NFL history with 5+ consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons to begin career (RANDY MOSS, 6). TE TYLER EIFERT led NFL TEs with 13 TD catches, most ever by Bengals TE in season…1 of 2 NFL teams to have 2 players with 11+ sacks in 2015 – DE CARLOS DUNLAP (13.5) & DT GENO ATKINS (11). Dunlap’s 13.5 sacks surpassed EDDIE EDWARDS’ single-season franchise record (13 in 1983). Atkins has 1.5 sacks in 3 career postseason games. S REGGIE NELSON tied for 1st in NFL with career-high 8 INTs. 1st Bengal to tie for 1st in NFL since DELTHA O’NEAL in 2005. LB VINCENT REY led team with 95 tackles…Club had 5 players selected to 2016 Pro Bowl (WR Green, TE Eifert, T ANDREW WHITWORTH, DT Atkins, S Nelson).