It’s been a while since the Cincinnati Bengals’ run game looked effective. Coming into Sunday, Joe Mixon was the team’s leading receiver and his best game was a 62 yard rushing, 39 yard receiving performance against the Packers, which included overtime. On Sunday against the Brows, Mixon finished with 114 rushing yards and 1 touchdown as well as 51 yards receiving.
It was the game we had all been waiting for from the rookie second round pick. Afterward, Mixon wasn’t taking sole credit though, he made sure to acknowledge the other people who helped him to achieve his best statistical game yet.
“I tip my hat off to everybody that trusted in our run game,” Mixon said. “Coach did a great job calling plays, and our line did a great job executing. Our fullback (Ryan Hewitt) did a damn good job too. Our receivers blocked on the perimeter, and it was up to me to go ahead and finish those runs, and that’s what happened.”
Per Pro Football Focus, Mixon has a breakaway percentage of 29.8, which ranked seventh in the league prior to Sunday Night Football. PFF also believes Mixon is the fourth most efficient running back in the passing game, averaging 2.83 yards per route run against the Browns. Mixon was PFF's number one graded running back for Week 12 (heading into SNF) with a “high quality” overall grade of 89.2.
Mixon says his goal is to be consistent, and on Sunday, he was consistently good.
“That’s definitely been our emphasis — running downhill and getting our shoulder pads low and driving our legs,” Mixon said of his consistency. “That’s pretty much what we’ve been doing. We’ve been trusting in it, believing in it. And like I said, our line did a hell of a job. Hopefully, we can get together and take them out somewhere and keep on feeding them week-by-week. I plan for it to continue to get better from there.”
Marvin Lewis echoed those same thoughts on consistency when asked about Mixon’s improvement after the game.
“I haven’t seen the tape, but since the Jacksonville game in general, just being consistent — making the four-yard gain an eight-yard gain, and making the one-yard gain a five-yard gain. Those are the things (we look for),” Lewis said of Mixon.
The Bengals will need to only get better from here out as the Steelers head to town for a Monday Night Football outing next week. With that said, Mixon sounds like he has the right attitude and drive to help the Bengals continue to win games.
“We’re just going to keep on going week-by-week and day-by-day,” he said. “We’ve got a big one next week. We have to keep going to work and keep getting together. We all have to keep believing and make it happen.”
As for Mixon’s touchdown, he credited center Russell Bodine specifically for “carrying” him into the end zone. It seemed almost funny like Bodine was tackling Mixon as he was reaching for the endzone, but, you have to give credit where it’s due and Bodine did help out his running back on the play.
“Our linemen did a great job,” Mixon said. “We executed and we caught an outside toss. A.J. Green had a great block and Russell Bodine did a hell of job carrying me into the end zone. Ryan Hewitt did a great job. We are just going to keep on moving from there and keep on believing and trusting.”
Meanwhile, Dalton made sure to give a post-game shoutout to Mixon for his efforts. “The line up front played really well, and Joe was obviously running the ball really hard. We did it, so this is the expectation now,” Dalton said. “We have to come out and prove it each week.”
The Bengals have a big test ahead and a chance to get to .500 on Monday Night Football when the Steelers come to town in Week 13.