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Bengals Bring Running Mindset Into Wild Card Meeting With Colts

Intro: When the Colts see the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon, they will encounter a team with a committed ground attack led by a new lead running back.


INDIANAPOLIS – Among the long list of personnel changes from the first Colts/Bengals matchup, there's a much bigger approach that will ultimately decide who survives to the Divisional Round.

It's a style that coaches label with playoff success.

While the Bengals search for their first postseason win since 1990, and their first road playoff victory in franchise history, they want do it with a physical brand of football.

"We have a team that runs the football," Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson says. "We have an identity. There's a much different mindset. And there should be. There should be a mindset that has some confidence."

Jackson's belief in a committed ground game goes well beyond his words.

The Bengals have imposed their will in the recent weeks behind the legs of rookie running back Jeremy Hill.

Back in mid-October, Hill had just four carries for 15 yards against the Colts.

An injury to then starting running back Giovanni Bernard led to the 239-pound Hill displaying the talent that Cincinnati saw when they chose the LSU-product in the second round of the 2014 draft.

Since Week 8, Hill's 929 rushing yards are 105 more than any other running back in the NFL.

Chuck Pagano calls the Bengals surge in the rushing department the biggest difference from the team's regular season meeting.

"They're doing a great job of running the football," Pagano said earlier this week. "They've got an excellent offensive line. Hill has emerged and you've still got Giovanni (Bernard) back there. That's probably the number one thing from a defensive standpoint."

The Bengals are 7-1 when Hill gets at least 17 touches and the Colts should expect a heavy dose of him on Sunday.

Even with the status of Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green (concussion) trending in the right direction of playing this weekend, the Bengals won't deviate too far from their running game success.

Back in Week Seven, the Bengals struggled mightily in getting in third-and-manageable situations.

In trying to alleviate the immense playoff pressure falling on the shoulders of quarterback Andy Dalton, Hill has to be the focal point of the offense.

Come Sunday, the four carries that Hill saw in Week Seven might be eclipsed by the end of the Bengals opening drive.

"He's a strong runner," Pagano says of Hill. "He can run between the tackles like we talked about.

"If you give him an edge, he can bounce it outside. We know he's got top-end speed to take it the distance; he went 85 yards against Denver I believe. He's a tough runner and he breaks a lot of tackles; there's a lot of yards after contact. So we've got our hands full. We've got to do a great job. It's going to take all 11 to take care of him."

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