As Cincinnati is becoming more and more familiar with playing “under the lights,” No. 9 yet again shined in the moment and lead the Bengals to a victory over one of the best teams in football with a score of 27-15 last week. This win improved the Bengals record to 2-2 and Cincinnati will have some much needed rest as they could sit back and relax last Sunday knowing they already have secured their victory for the week.
After starting the season 0-2, Cincinnati has turned the corner and is finally playing football that this city knows they are capable of playing. There are still some major concerns, but it is such a relief knowing we have a quarterback who doesn’t crumble under pressure during nationally televised games. The new helmets, the anticipation after last year’s Super Bowl run, and the Ring of Honor ceremony all led to record breaking attendance at Paycor Stadium as a whopping 67,260 were in attendance at the game.
Apple a day
An apple a day keeps the … touchdowns away? While I feel that many people are quick to judge and criticize Eli Apple, he has been a shining spot on our defense. Tyreek Hill with his off-the-field antics called out Apple before the game while stating “I owe you” in regards to the way his season ended last year in the playoffs. Apple remained silent on the comment and let his game speak for itself, as Tyreek only had one reception for 7 yards while lined up with Apple.
Yes, Tyreek still had a big game outside of his matchup with Eli, but Eli did a magnificent job against an elite player. The defense continues to carry them each game and they were able to force turnovers yet again. Vonn Bell reeled in two interceptions, while Germaine Pratt lead the team with nine total tackles. Trey Hendrickson had a quiet day after receiving AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in the week prior, but our backfield stepped up and made plays for all four quarters. We will need another stellar performance next week as we take on the Ravens in a tough AFC North battle that could certainly play a factor in who is playing in the playoffs at the end of the season.
· As stated previously, this team doesn’t let primetime games interfere with its performance. This is huge moving forward, as the Bengals have another primetime game approaching on Oct. 31 for Monday Night Football.
· Tee Higgins was an animal yet again as he torched the Dolphins defense for 124 yards on seven receptions. When Chase is getting extra attention, Higgins continues to come through. Tee is currently leading the team in receiving yards with 315 yards on 28 targets.
· The Cincinnati defense continues to put this team in good field position multiple times a game. Miami’s stellar offense was held to only 15 points and even without DJ Reader, Cincinnati held the Dolphins to only 85 total yards rushing. With our front line, along with players like Vonn Bell and the rest of our backfield making plays, this defense is very hard to prepare for.
· Cincinnati was able to get off to a good start for the second straight week. This seems to be very important for the momentum of our games, as playing behind certainly caused issues in the first two weeks. Putting up six on an opening drive and letting our defense take the field with a lead has worked two weeks in a row.
· Evan McPherson displayed his range yet again as he drilled a crucial 57-yard field goal to extend the lead to five.
· The offensive line is beginning to mesh. I was starting to panic, but they have played a lot better the last two weeks. In the first two weeks, they gave up 13 sacks, but have only given up three sacks in the last two games. Karras, Cappa, Williams and Burrow all celebrating together is awesome to see and the chemistry is finally getting better. Joey even stated after the game that in this game, he was given the best protection in any game he has played so far in his career.
· The run game is still not clicking. Mixon was fed the ball 24 times and yet again only averaged 2.5 yards per carry. His longest run of the night was for seven yards and he has vastly struggled finding a rhythm early on this season.
· Play calling is once again an issue. With the run game being nearly inexistent, Taylor went to the run again on a fourth and short situation to the outside which lead to another turnover on downs. This is the second week in a row that we have put trust on outside runs on fourth down situations. Call me conservative if you will, but when points are available and when we are struggling to even get two-yard gains, let’s take our points or at least put the ball in the hands of the QB to make the play.
Prediction: Cincinnati takes down the Ravens on Sunday Night Football in a high scoring game, 30-28… Who Dey!
Matthew McAdow is a Peebles resident. He works in human resources in the nuclear industry and has been an avid Cincinnati fan his entire life. He is an Ohio Christian University graduate and has always enjoyed giving an honest opinion on multiple topics regarding Cincinnati sports.