Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed 19 times for 129 yards in Sunday's win against Oakland. (AP)

Through the first nine games of the season, the Bengals running game tested the patience of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Heck, even Woody Hayes would have thrown the rock more considering the complete failure on the ground.

In nine games, they ran 228 times for 676 yards at 2.96 yards per rush.

Yet, here was Gruden, with A.J. Green playing like the best WR in the NFL, calling running plays, then watching them repeatedly be stuffed. Pulling the trigger over and again in hopes of a breakthrough came with hesitancy.

“Very tough,” Gruden said, shaking his head. “Very tough.”

The last two weeks, patience paid off. The struggling running game came to life with 410 yards on 72 carries for a 5.7-yard average in blowout wins against Kansas City and Oakland.

Sure, the Chiefs (25th) and Raiders (28th) both rank near the bottom of the league against the run. Still, to increase production to that degree suggests more than favorable matchups. The Bengals staff points to the consistency of a young group learning to play together.

The season began with two new guards in LG Clint Boling and first-round pick RG Kevin Zeitler, and an injury to longtime starting center Kyle Cook forced the duo of veteran Jeff Faine and undrafted rookie Trevor Robinson into action. They all blocked for a new running back in BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Finding cohesion among the group took time. More time than Gruden or anyone else would have liked, but the group turned the corner during this three-game win streak.

“I would say the guys are doing a good job of seeing the look together through the same eyes and coming off the football together in unison and getting the hats and their heads and our feet and our pad level all in the right spot as much as we can,” Marvin Lewis said.

Green-Ellis became the first Bengals running back to crack 100 yards in back-to-back games since Cedric Benson did it in 2008. Green-Ellis has been helped by increased reps of backup Cedric Peerman, who filled the change-of-pace role originally designated for Bernard Scott (IR, ACL).

Peerman has averaged 5.9 yards per carry in his 27 handoffs from scrimmage this season (and has also rushed for 80 yards on two fake punts).

With all the moving parts in the running game, the pieces have clicked.

“Finally, everyone is getting the job done that they need to, the right reads being made,” Zeitler said. “We had to rely so much on our pass game early and just defenses could focus on that area more. But now that that’s going, it really helps open everything up.”

Once runs break to the second level as Green-Ellis did twice Sunday for gains of 48 and 39, the field opens dramatically because of double teams on Green.

“Nobody is home because everybody is standing by 18,” Lewis said of his Pro Bowl receiver.

Gruden used not only the threat of Green, but the pass itself to open up the running game lately instead of vice versa. He has been rewarded with only one negative run the last two weeks. Even with short gains, calling running plays doesn't feel like a chore anymore.

“It's a lot easier to stick with it at second-and-7 then second-and-12,” Gruden said. “As long as we avoid the negative plays, then we will be able to stick with it and keep pounding them. Keep the defense off balance and if they want to load up the box to stop the run -- thank you. We'll take some shots.”

Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates on Twitter at @CBSBengals.