It's no secret that Brandon Tate has been one of the most scrutinized Bengals in recent years.
That's what happens when you're a full-time returner on both kickoffs and punts, yet never seem to get anything more than a minimal gain, if even that at your position on offense. In 2014, Tate's 22.1 yards per kickoff return was just the 40th-best average of any player who had 10+ kickoff returns. He also caught just 19 passes for 193 yards on a Bengals team that was desperately needing production from other receivers with A.J. Green banged up while Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert missed essentially the whole season.
But against the Chiefs, Tate stepped up and made as big of a play as any Bengals player made in this game. With Kansas City having cut Cincinnati's lead to just 14-12 and having all of the momentum, Tate broke free down field for a scrambling Andy Dalton to find him for a 55-yard score.
Brandon Tate with an AMAZING catch. Got back up and scored the touchdown!! https://t.co/OZCJpex9G6— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) October 4, 2015
Tate had to lay out and make a great diving grab before popping back up to get in for the score. That gave the Bengals momentum, a 21-12 lead and sparked a 22-7 run that turned into a 36-21 win.
"It was a good job by the guys on the big play moving out of the pocket on the scramble and finding (Brandon) Tate, and Tate doing a nice job with the scramble and turning it up the field like he’s supposed to do," head coach Marvin Lewis said following the win. "It was a good throw, good catch, and Tate put it in the end zone."
It was Tate's longest catch since his 65-yarder as a member of the Patriots, which came against the Vikings in 2010. It was also Tate's first score since last year's tie with the Panthers during which he secured a nice touchdown on offense.
"The way it happened, I was able to escape to my right. Brandon made an unbelievable catch," Dalton said of the play. "What great field-awareness he had to get up immediately and score. That play made an impact at that point in the game."
Does that mean Tate is gaining a bigger role in the offense?
"He’s got a role. When he gets an opportunity, he always takes advantage of it," Lewis said. "It was a nice job by him."
We likely won't see Tate suddenly getting multiple targets per game going forward, but seeing your No. 5 receiver step up when called upon is always welcomed.