Monday, November 17, 2014

Rex Burkhead makes significant contributions during Bengals 27-10 win over Saints

Backup running back Rex Burkhead only played six snaps on offense, but touched the football five times. He gained 37 yards from scrimmage and three first downs.

By Josh Kirkendall

November 17, 2014

If you're a fan of Rex Burkhead you're probably saying to yourself... finally. But, even if you're not an immediate fan of the player (or just indifferent), you're likely a Bengals fan who appreciates a good make-it-happen storyline.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead played six offensive snaps during Sunday's 27-10 win over the New Orleans Saints. And of those six snaps, Burkhead touched the ball five times for 37 yards from scrimmage (two carries, one yard... three receptions for 36 yards receiving). Essentially it was a career-day for the former sixth-rounder out of Nebraska, following up a 12-yard rushing effort last week against the Cleveland Browns.

Burkhead was particularly effective in the passing game Sunday, converting a first on all three receptions.

The first occurred after the defense's goalline stand. OK, while defensive players are selfishly (we're kidding) celebrating their game-changing accomplishment, the offense was tasked with a first down from their own two-yard line. After Burkhead picked up a one-yard gain on the ground, the Bengals had second and nine from their own three with 9:47 remaining in the second.

Dalton faked the handoff to Burkhead, and then flipped the football out to his running back... who clearly had the advantage over linebacker David Hawthorne.

First down.

Burkhead would show back up with 9:49 remaining in the third quarter. The Bengals had first down from midfield. Burkhead was flanking Dalton's right in formation while Ryan Hewitt went into motion, lining up wide left (and carrying linebacker David Hawthorne with him). Burkhead angled out to the 47-yard line, and cut upfield. Outside linebacker, Parys Haralson was covering.

Dalton threw the football in front of Burkhead, who made a beautiful diving catch -- largely because he was losing his balance after a nice move against Haralson. The 10-yard gain picked up a first down.

Despite bailing Cincinnati out from their own goalline and making an awesome reception, Burkhead made his most significant contribution a few plays later.

With 8:08 remaining in the third quarter, the Bengals had third and 11 from the Saints 41-yard line.

After taking the shotgun snap, Dalton is flushed out of the pocket. Scrambling on an improvised bootleg to the right, Dalton found Rex Burkhead crossing along the 35-yard line. Needing six yards to convert the third down, Burkhead snagged the football and outpaced linebacker Curtis Lofton several yards after the first down was made.

Not only did he get open for Dalton (nice throw on the run, by the way), Burkhead converted a third-and-11 situation with a 15-yard reception. This is important because the Bengals would eventually score a touchdown on this possession, taking a 20-3 lead with more than six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Fantastic afternoon for Burkhead.

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