By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
Finding a good defensive back is like a woman saying she wants to find a good a good man or a man wanting a good woman. Sometimes it happens later, but at least it always happens. Mike Hilton is the perfect example of that. It took several years of being a journeyman. Eventually, Hilton found his way to Cincinnati.
The journey was a long one. After starring at Ole Miss, Hilton signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars in May of 2016. He would have very short stints in Jacksonville and New England before finally making an impact and finding a home in Pittsburgh. It’s not often the Pittsburgh Steelers help the Cincinnati Bengals out, but in the case of the former Ole Miss star Pittsburgh’s loss was Cincinnati’s gain. After five seasons in Pittsburgh, the Bengals signed Hilton to a free agent contract in March of 2021.
Since coming to the Bengals, Hilton was an integral part of the Bengals Super Bowl run in 2021. He has played a key role in the defensive backfield here in 2022. Thus far this season, the former Steeler has 39 solo tackles and 9 assists. He also has 2 interceptions.
Cincinnati has had several injuries to key starters, which has forced Hilton and his fellow DB’s to have to step up their individual games to get defensive stops.
Though not a starter, Hilton plays a key role in many nickel and dime packages the Bengals throw at different offenses. He has played a key role in helping the Bengals slow down such receivers as Amari Cooper (Cleveland), CD Lamb (Dallas), and Jalen Waddle (Miami).
This past weekend the Bengals defeated the Kansas City Chiefs for the third time in 2022. Hilton and the defense forced a late fumble by the Chief’s All Pro tight end Travis Kelce that ultimately was the difference in the game.
Five games remain in the regular season. The Bengals are currently tied for first place with the Baltimore Ravens with an 8-4 mark. Baltimore holds the tie breaker in a head-to-head win against the Bengals.
For now the Old Miss Rebel will enjoy a win against one of the premiere powers in the league, while trying to find a way to defeat a team they have been unable to defeat. Cleveland, which has four straight wins over Cincinnati, will be playing the Bengals this weekend. It would be fitting for Hilton to seal the game with an interception or by forcing a fumble.