Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson is tackled by Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs in the first half.
CINCINNATI - In the days before Sunday's game, former Bears running back Cedric Benson accused his old team of blackballing him before he was able to hook up with the Bengals four months after he was cut in June of 2008 following two alcohol-related arrests in which he was later cleared.
But his former teammates and coaches didn't have anything but praise for him after he rumbled through them for a career-high 189 yards on 37 carries.
"He played good," coach Lovie Smith said. "He's been playing well throughout the year. He ran hard today."
But the Bears' coach didn't have any desire to reminisce with the current NFL rushing leader after the game.
"It's a business trip," Smith said. "This isn't a family reunion or anything like that."
It certainly wasn't. Even with the game having ceased being a contest hours ago, Benson was still pounding it at the Bears with a 45-10 lead and less than a minute to go.
Smith said he took no offense and didn't think the Bengals were rubbing it in.
"They're running their offense," he said. "They're trying to get better each play. It's our job to stop them. So I didn't see that at all."
Benson said many of his former teammates had kind words for him after the game, but he would have liked to speak with Smith, who recommended him to the Bengals.
"It would have been really nice to look him in the eyes again and say, 'Thank you,' " Benson said.
Later, even in a subdued locker room, Benson's former teammates spoke well of him.
"He was a major contributor to that win," safety Danieal Manning said. "He ran hard. We knew that coming in, we knew he had a passion coming in, we knew he wanted to get back at (us). We expected that. We didn't expect anything less. He stepped up."
Benson's league-leading 720 rushing yards in seven games are more than he had in any of his three years with the Bears, when he spent most of his time splitting reps with Thomas Jones or injured. But he was the one putting the hurt on the Bears on Sunday.
"My hat's off to Cedric," linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "I'm sure he's feeling great right now. To have a game like that against guys who supposedly discarded you.
"But that's life in the NFL. I wish him the best. I hope he has a good year and is healthy."If he wasn't already, Benson got well against the Bears.