One of NFL’s best, Bengals defense embracing the ‘nasty stuff’

The Cincinnati Bengals defense heads into the bye ranked in the top 10 in 10 categories, including the one coordinator Paul Guenther points to as the only one that matters — points allowed.

The Bengals are allowing just 16.6 points per game, a number that could be significantly lower if the offense wasn’t among the lead leaders in turning the ball over, leading to 23 of the 83 points allowed.

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Five of the 11 turnovers lost have given the opponent possession of the ball in Cincinnati territory, but only two of those drives led to touchdowns — once when the Ravens started at the 2 after an Andy Dalton interception in the opener, and again Sunday when the Bills started at the 23 after an interception.

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Another possession led to a field goal, and twice the Bengals defense prevented the opponent from getting any points at all despite great starting field position.

“I kind of preach that,” Guenther said. ” I don’t care where they get the ball, if they get the ball at the 3-yard line we have to hold them to a field goal. There’s been those situations every ballgame, and I think they guys have done a really good job.”

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In addition to the turnovers, there have been two other instances were the opponent has started in Bengals territory, once after the offense failed to convert on fourth down its own 44 in the Houston game, and once after a 40-yard punt return gave the Bills the ball at the 12-yard line in the fourth quarter Sunday.

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The Cincinnati defense prevented the Texans from scoring and held Buffalo to a field goal to preserve a 17-16 lead on the way to a 20-16 win.

“(Guenther) speaks about that a lot, about enjoying the nasty stuff and the hard challenges,” rookie defensive end Jordan Willis said. “You’re in an NFL game and your back’s up against the wall, obviously your juices get flowing and it gets exciting when you’ve got to take the field and make a big stop. That’s what you look forward to as a player. I think everybody on our defense is equipped for doing that.”

As for the other six turnovers that came on the opponent’s side of the field, the Bengals defense has allowed just two drives to result in points, both of which ended in field goals.

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