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Cincinnati's Cedric Benson earns his stripes

In his second season with the Bengals, the running back finally looks like the player he was expected to be when he was drafted by Chicago in 2005.

October 18, 2009|SAM FARMER

The amazing Cincinnati Bengals have staged last-minute comebacks in each of their last three games. So it's only fitting that one of their leaders is the potential comeback player of the year.

Then again, it's not as if running back Cedric Benson is "coming back" to his old self. As an NFL player, he has never been as good as he is now.

Benson, cut by Chicago in 2008, leads the NFL in rushing with 487 yards in 111 carries and three touchdowns. He rushed for 141 yards at Green Bay, and last Sunday became the first running back in 40 games to run for 100 yards against Baltimore, gaining 120 in 27 carries.

"He's a fine player and you can see he's hungry," said Houston Texans Coach Gary Kubiak, whose team plays at Cincinnati today. "He's got a new start there, and obviously they're giving him great opportunities. We're very impressed with what he's doing."

In March, the Texans almost signed Benson, a former University of Texas standout, as a backup to Steve Slaton. The Bengals wound up giving him a two-year deal, however, and clearly don't regret it now.

Benson, the fourth overall pick by the Bears in 2005, never lived up to the hype in Chicago, where he rushed for 1,593 yards and 10 touchdowns in three seasons. That, after running for 5,540 yards for the Longhorns -- sixth-most in NCAA Division I-A history -- and scoring 64 touchdowns.

The final straw with the Bears came before the start of the 2008 season when Benson was arrested for allegedly operating a boat while intoxicated and resisting arrest. He was later cleared of the charges.

After he was released by Chicago, he signed with the Bengals and had a decent season -- his best as a pro -- gaining 747 yards on 214 carries with two touchdowns. Nothing special, and nothing like the start he's off to now.

Benson's career numbers:

*--* Year Team Yards Yds/G TDs 2009 Cincinnati 487 97.4 3 2008 Cincinnati 747 62.2 2 2007 Chicago 674 61.3 4 2006 Chicago 647 43.1 6 2005 Chicago 272 30.2 0 *--*

Fab Five

It's hard to believe that, after all these years, Brett Favre is on a 5-0 team for the first time in his career.

When it comes to uncharted territory, though, he's not alone.

This is the first time in NFL history that so many teams have been undefeated at this point in the season. In addition to the Vikings, there are the 5-0 Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants, and the 4-0 New Orleans Saints.

At least one of those teams will drop out of the mix today, because the Giants are playing at New Orleans. Whereas the Colts get a week off, the Vikings (vs. Baltimore) and Broncos (at San Diego) face challenging opponents.

A look at the statistical matchup of the Giants and Saints (NFL rank in parentheses):

*--* NY GIANTS SAINTS Points per game 30.2 (4th) 36.0 (1st) Scoring differential +80 (1st) +78 (2nd) Total offense 417.4 (2nd) 414.3 (3rd) Total defense 210.6 (1st) 295.3 (6th) Takeaways 11 (T4th) 13 (1st) *--*

Source: NFL

L.A. is going green

More than 170,000 Facebook users have registered themselves as fans of the Green Bay Packers, and Southern California is well represented in that group. The Packers have compiled a list of where those Facebook fans are from, and, not surprisingly, eight of the top 10 cities are in Wisconsin. But L.A. ranks 14th on that list, with the only major cities ahead of it being Chicago (third) and Minneapolis (ninth).

Winging it

In its first four games, Philadelphia had five 100-yard receiving performances: two by receiver DeSean Jackson, two by tight end Brent Celek, and one by rookie receiver Jeremy Maclin. That matches the five the Eagles had all of last season.


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