There was a lot of panic going around when the Cincinnati Bengals opened the new season 0-2.
While this team still has a lot to work on, they’ve responded exactly how they needed to in winning two-straight games, the latest bring a 27-15 primetime win over the previously unbeaten Miami Dolphins, who already have wins over top AFC contenders in the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens.
Even though there were some of those frustrating dry spells on offense, they found a way. And for the third straight week, Burrow played turnover-less football.
With Ja’Marr Chase getting taken out of the equation for a good chunk of the game, Burrow found Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Hayden Hurst often to charge towards a win. No. 9 finished 20-of-31 for 287 yards and two scores.
Gunter hasn’t had many snaps, but he definitely made a special teams one count Thursday night. In a tight contest, Gunter stepped up with a huge play by blocking a Dolphins field goal attempt in the first half. The rookie continues to show he’s going to make an impact in this league.
The Dolphins pressed hard with their talented corners, but when they bracketed the safeties to Ja’Marr Chase, Higgins responded with a handful of big plays en route to a 100-yard receiving day.
Higgins beat star corner Xavien Howard for a 59-yard touchdown in the second quarter down the left sideline and had another big catch on a slant in traffic in the third quarter. Higgins finished with seven grabs for 124 yards and one score.
Evan “Money Mac” McPherson:
Cincinnati was starting to get into very uncomfortable territory with a fourth-and-13 in no man’s land. Zac Taylor opted to give his second-year star kicker a shot from 57 yards.
What did McPherson do? He hit a big kick that Amazon Prime gauged would have been good from 64.
Give the veteran tight end some props. Two of his three catches were critical towards or directly responsible for Bengals touchdown drives. His game-ending grab late in the fourth was the stuff we wanted to see from him in the red zone ever since the team signed him in free agency.
Aside from one over pursuit in the fourth quarter to net Raheem Mostert a big play, Wilson was omnipresent on Thursday night. He had seven total tackles, one for loss and a late pass-breakup. He continues to establish himself as one of the best pure linebackers in this league and is setting himself up for a nice payday, hopefully from the Bengals during the 2023 offseason.
If you get two interceptions in a tough-fought game wherein your team gets the win against a formerly-undefeated team, you’re going to make the winners list. Such is the case with the team’s veteran safety.
Bell has been outstanding in his time with the Bengals, routinely forcing turnovers over the course of three seasons with Cincinnati. He had the two picks—one being the game-sealer in the red zone—and four total tackles.
For all the talk of the Bengals not re-signing Jessie Bates, it’s become very clear that Bell absolutely deserves his own long-term extension in Cincinnati when the next offseason rolls around.
Tyreek Hill called out Apple this past Sunday, stoking the fire between two emerging AFC powers. Hill went 10 catches for 160, but his acrobatic 64-yarder was against Chidobe Awuzie in coverage.
Game ends with Eli Apple forcing an incompletion to Tyreek Hill. Of course.
— Anthony Cosenza (@CJAnthonyCUI) September 30, 2022
Whoever was the actual culprit of the second quarter unnecessary roughness call:
Raheem Mostert was stopped on a routine run when Miami was stymied from the unfortunate Tua Tagovailoa injury. Cincinnati looked to start to assert control, but the defense got over-aggressive and slammed the running back to the turf.
The penalty was actually put at the feet of Sam Hubbard, but it may have been B.J. Hill or Mike Hilton who were ultimately responsible. Regardless, it led to a key touchdown drive by the Dolphins to give them life under Teddy Bridgewater.
The team’s star running back has meant a lot to the team in his career (and still does—he’s a team captain), but things aren’t going well at all for him this season. He entered the game with under three yards per carry on the season.
After the first drive, things just got ugly for No. 28. This gem was as the game was winding down:
The Bengals must find a way to fix this ground game if they’re going to become a true contender again in the AFC.
But for now, celebrate the big win!