CINCINNATI -- With Jermaine Gresham out nursing a bad back, the Cincinnati Bengals were forced to get creative with their formations and offensive schemes in Sunday's wild-card round playoff game at Indianapolis.
Backup offensive linemen Mike Pollak and Marshall Newhouse might not have been expected to contribute much with a healthy starting offensive line, but Gresham's injury forced them onto the field regularly as part of heavy, unbalanced line fronts. The Bengals still might have had some of those designs in the game plan anyway, but with the team unexpectedly missing one of their best run blockers, it made sense to add more onto the line.
Gresham's absence also meant rookie H-back Ryan Hewitt had to be thrown on the field a little more regularly than he may have previously anticipated. According to Pro Football Focus, he was on the field for 53 snaps. That was the second-most snaps he took in a game this season, after the Week 15 win over Cleveland.
Much like the day of the 30-0 victory over the Browns, Gresham tested out an injury -- in that case, a toe -- before being a pregame scratch. In both instances, those who saw him could tell he was in some pain, but given the magnitude of both games (there postseason implications tied to the game at Cleveland) many were surprised to see him inactive for them.
The absence of A.J. Green also meant a shift in responsibilities at receiver, where Mohamed Sanu was part of all but one of the Bengals' 62 offensive plays. Fellow receiver Brandon Tate was on the field 79 percent of the time. Cobi Hamilton, signed off the practice squad last Wednesday, played 45.2 percent of the snaps at receiver.
Also of note offensively: Giovani Bernard outpaced Jeremy Hill in running back snaps. Bernard played 41 to Hill's 21. Part of that was the product of an ankle injury that kept Hill out for periods of the second half. After the game, Hill told ESPN the ankle felt fine and wasn't a factor in his 47-yard rushing performance.
From PFF, here are the complete offense/defense snap counts from the latest first-round playoff loss:
OFFENSE (62 plays)
OG Clint Boling (62), OT Andrew Whitworth (62), OT Eric Winston (62), OG Kevin Zeitler (62), C Russell Bodine (62), QB Andy Dalton (62), WR Mohamed Sanu (61), H-back Ryan Hewitt (53), WR Brandon Tate (49), RB Giovani Bernard (41), WR Cobi Hamilton (28), RB Jeremy Hill (21), TE Kevin Brock (20), OT Marshall Newhouse (16), RB Rex Burkhead (10), OG Mike Pollak (6), WR Greg Little (4), FB Domata Peko (1).
DEFENSE (77 plays)
LB Vincent Rey (77), S Reggie Nelson (76), S George Iloka (74), LB Emmanuel Lamur (69), CB Adam Jones (64), DE Carlos Dunlap (62), DE Wallace Gilberry (61), DT Geno Atkins (53), CB Terence Newman (51), Peko (47), CB Leon Hall (42), DE Robert Geathers (36), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (30), DT Brandon Thompson (28), LB Marquis Flowers (23), LB Rey Maualuga (17), DE Margus Hunt (16), CB Darqueze Dennard (15), DE Will Clarke (5), LB Nico Johnson (1).