It featured many of the same heavy-hitters during their 5-3 stretch have good games against Cleveland, highlighted by another solid outing by Andy Dalton. It helped that Dalton was under pressure on only six dropbacks, tied for least in Week 12. When kept clean, Dalton had a 123.4 passer rating, which was fourth best in the NFL.
But while Dalton shined, rookie running back Joe Mixon was the star of the day. Mixon has four runs of 15-plus yards on the season, and two of those happened against the Browns on Sunday. Those two runs were the second most in the NFL and gave Mixon a breakaway percentage of 29.8, which was seventh-best in Week 12.
Mixon was also the fourth-most efficient running back in the passing game, averaging 2.83 yards per route run against the Browns. He finished Week 12 with the highest-grade of any running back at 89.2.
The Bengals’ offensive line had one of their best games of the season, allowing only three total pressures on 31 passing plays, a 91.9-percent pass-blocking efficiency. This was just their second week of an 90-plus percent pass-blocking efficiency. Their first came in Week 10 against the Titans, so it’s clear they’ve improved a lot down the stretch of this season.
All three of the Bengals’ quarterback pressure were allowed by tackles Andre Smith and Cedric Ogbuehi; one and two total pressures allowed respectively. Smith made up for those pressures in the run game with an overall PFF grade of 76.9.
Ogbuehi, however, was poorly graded in both the run and pass-blocking game. He ended the game with a 35.0 overall PFF grade, one of the worst marks of any offensive linemen in Week 12, something we’ve said far too often this season.
Clint Boling was the Bengals’ second-highest graded offensive player in Week 12 and the second-highest graded guard with an 88.4 grade. There’s no doubt he’s the Bengals’ best offensive lineman right now, so it’s good to see him playing like one of the best guards in football.
On defense, it was once again Geno Atkins that was the Bengals highest graded defensive player, scoring an 88.5 grade against Cleveland. Atkins finished sixth in the NFL in run-stop percentage among defensive tackles or nose tackles, stopping 14.3 percent of runs. He also finished second in pass-rushing productivity, he accounted for 2 sacks, 2 hits and 2 hurries, resulting in pressure on 16.7 percent of his 30 pass rushing snaps.
Rookie edge rusher Carl Lawson created pressure on 17.7 percent of his 24 pass-rushing snaps. Among pass rushers in Week 12, he ranked 10th in pass rushing.
Vontaze Burfict rushed the passer on only four snaps and accounted for one hit and tied for best in the NFL among 4-3 outside linebackers in pass-rushing productivity, creating pressure on 18.8 percent of his pass-rushing snaps.
Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer was very efficient when targeting Bengals linebackers (Vontaze Burfict, Jordan Evans, and Nick Vigil). The rookie threw for 145 yards when targeting Bengals linebackers, which accounted for 54 percent of his total yards and 50 percent of his completions on just 34.4 percent of his targets.
Dre Kirkpatrick was the Bengals’ highest-graded cornerback this week with an 81.7 overall PFF grade. He was the Bengals’ most targeted player with seven targets on 37 coverage snaps. On average, Kirkpatrick was targeted once every 5.3 snaps he was in coverage, but he allowed only one reception every 9.3 snaps and 1.76 yards per snap.
That was great to see from Kirkpatrick, who’s been one of the defense’s most scrutinized players this season, and for good reason. Even with his good showing in Week 12, Kirkpatrick ranks 75th out of 118 eligible corners in PFF’s rankings.
That’s actually a big step up, as Kirkpatrick has been ranked in the 90s and even 100s at various points this season, so he’s definitely playing a lot better just to get into the 70s.