Wizards

Bengals stay in playoff chase with ragged win

201212021821660693372-p2.jpeg

Bengals stay in playoff chase with ragged win

CINCINNATI (AP) A ragged win on the West Coast has given the Bengals a sense that everything is coming together with the playoffs on the line.

Even coach Marvin Lewis sees them as a team on the rise.

A 20-13 win in San Diego on Sunday gave Cincinnati (7-5) a four-game winning streak and kept the Bengals in the middle of the playoff chase. They remained tied with Pittsburgh for the second AFC wild card, although the Steelers currently hold the tiebreaker because they won in Cincinnati this season.

The Bengals have turned into one of the NFL's hottest teams - their four wins have come by 18, 22, 24 and 7 points - at the right time.

``This team is getting better each week,'' receiver A.J. Green said. ``A lot of people said it was out of our reach to make the playoffs, but I feel like we have momentum on our side coming down the home stretch of the season.''

It could come down to the last two games against the AFC North teams they've been trying to catch for years.

The Bengals play at home on Sunday against Dallas (6-6) and the following Thursday at Philadelphia (3-9), which is tied for worst record in the NFC. They finish with games at Pittsburgh and home against AFC North leading Baltimore (9-3).

The Steelers beat the Ravens 23-20 on Sunday behind third-string quarterback Charlie Batch, chopping Baltimore's three-game lead to only two. Suddenly, the division title is up for grabs with four games left.

``We're obviously in the hunt for this thing,'' quarterback Andy Dalton said.

Even Lewis, who is careful not to give his team much praise after a win, referred to the Bengals as a ``rising'' team after they overcame three turnovers in San Diego and pulled it out in the fourth quarter. It was the first time since September that Cincinnati had to pull one out at the end.

His biggest concern on Monday was that his team doesn't let it all go to their heads.

``We were able to kind of shake the cobwebs a little bit and break up the glee club, because we've got to do better,'' Lewis said. ``It wasn't good enough yesterday in a lot of areas.

``Everybody is patting them on their backs about what they're doing. Well, we haven't done anything. We just got back to even, and now we have to move forward. These last four are what counts.''

The win in San Diego was a significant step. The Bengals played their sloppiest game in a month, turning the ball over three times. Dalton had an interception returned for San Diego's only touchdown. The defense allowed the Chargers to drive inside the Cincinnati 20-yard line in the final minutes before getting an interception.

The Bengals have a young offense that will be playing under its biggest pressure the next four weeks.

``There's still a lot of young players playing a lot of football,'' Lewis said. ``Three rookies started on offense yesterday (center Trevor Robinson, guard Kevin Zeitler, receiver Marvin Jones). That's a lot. That tells you where we are with things. You have to realize that.''

Last season, the Bengals, who finished 9-7, reached the playoffs as a wild card despite losing three of their last five games. With the weak AFC - Cincinnati is one of only seven teams with a winning record - there's a chance to get in again, though it will probably require a better finish than last year.

``I think we are a far better football team than we were last year when we finished the season,'' Lewis said.

---

NOTES: Rookie WR Mohamed Sanu had surgery Monday on his broken left foot, ending his season. Sanu hurt his foot in practice last Thursday. Sanu had been emerging as a complement to Green, starting the last two games. Overall, he caught 16 passes for 154 yards and four touchdowns, ran five times for 15 yards and threw a 73-yard TD pass to Green. ... Lewis had no updated information on the severity of RB Cedric Peerman's sprained ankle from Sunday.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Kevin Durant commits $10 million to Prince George's County public schools

usatsi_10629862.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant commits $10 million to Prince George's County public schools

Kevin Durant continues to give back to the community that raised him. 

Durant, who calls Prince George's County, MD., home, recently announced a partnership with Prince George's County public schools. 

The partnership, which comes with a $10 million dollar commitment from Durant, will help fund a program called College Track. Essentially, it's a 10-year program that provides basic infrastructure — test prep, tutoring, college selection and how to get financial aid — that kids from less-advantaged families often times don’t have.

Durant's money will go towards building College Track's Maryland center. There are nine other College Tracks across California, Colorado, and Louisiana, and the program has helped over 3,000 students get to college and beyond. This Maryland center will be the first of three that are planned to go up in the DC area. 

You can read the entire article about Durant and College Track right here. 

RELATED: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR TOMAS SATORANSKY

Quick Links

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

usatsi_10473485.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!