Despite losing superstar quarterback Joe Burrow for the season on Nov. 16, the Cincinnati Bengals have won two straight, are 7-6 and are hanging tough in the AFC wild-card playoff race thanks in part to the play of defensive end Trey Hendrickson.
The 29-year-old pass rusher has accumulated 34 combined tackles (14 for a loss), 13.5 sacks, three pass deflections and two forced fumbles. He’s poised to exceed his career highs in all of those categories, and a third Pro Bowl selection is likely heading his way. Hendrickson’s career high is 14 sacks set in 2021, when he spearheaded a defense that helped the Bengals advance all the way to the Super Bowl.
— WINCINNATI (@WINCINNATI_) December 10, 2023
His 13.5 sacks this season are tied for third in the league behind only Khalil Mack of the Chargers (15.0) and T.J. Watt of the Steelers (14.0). Hendrickson’s gone without a sack in just two games.
In Cincy’s 34-31 overtime win on Dec. 4 in Jacksonville, he was credited with a sack when Jaguars star quarterback Trevor Lawrence dropped back to pass but went down easily due to an ankle sprain. Hendrickson helped Lawrence to his feet, but after the quarterback fell to the ground again, Hendrickson kneeled down to pray. His prayer made the rounds on social media.
Trey Hendrickson tried helping Trevor Lawrence up and when he realized he was hurt, he got on a knee and prayed for him.
— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) December 5, 2023
That act wasn’t the only time he’s displayed his faith in Christ while on the field. In fact, after nearly every sack, he points upward to acknowledge his Father in Heaven.
With the sports world watching in the lead-up to Super Bowl LVI, which the Bengals lost to the Rams, 23-20, Hendrickson had numerous opportunities to expand on his faith in Christ.
“My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is more to me than just football,” Hendrickson said during a media session that week. “… So it’s one of those things that anything that I do on the field is to glorify Him, through Him for Him for His glory.
“So it’s one of those things that just my life is a sacrifice, and the days after football will be the same as the days playing football. I try to encourage people any way to crack open their Bible, [with] Instagram, things like that, just look up the verse and continue to grow stronger in faith because that’s where it starts.”
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He’s also been quick to praise God upon receiving personal accolades.
“It’s a tremendous achievement,” Hendrickson told the Dayton Daily News about his reaction to his first Pro Bowl selection in December 2021. “I’ve worked very hard for it, but I mean, feel like I’m just really thankful and I give thanks to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. … It’s an emotional experience. You sacrifice a lot to play the game and to get recognition like that means a lot to me.”
His response to being named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl a year ago was much the same: “It’s just a blessing. Everything I have and everything I am is from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I also am honored to play for such a family organization, and being able to represent them and my family is something that I hold very special.”
If Cincinnati keeps winning and Hendrickson keeps finding his way to the quarterback, the platform he’s already leveraged for the glory of God will only grow larger.
The Bengals will go for their third consecutive win as they try to keep pace in the AFC playoff race on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET when they host the Minnesota Vikings (7-6), a team also battling for its playoff life. All four of Cincinnati’s remaining games are against teams currently with winning records.
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