In another bloodbath under the lights between the Steelers and Bengals, a number of Cincinnati players exited the game with injuries, leading to a blown-lead. One of those injuries was to the Bengals’ most played rookie, and another injury allowed a rookie to start his first game ever. Here’s our Bengals rookie report for the final installment of Bengals-Steelers in 2017:
- Joe Mixon 17 snaps on offense
- Jordan Willis three snaps on defense; four snaps on special teams
- Carl Lawson 24 snaps on defense; 11 snaps on special teams
- Josh Malone 33 snaps on offense; five snaps on special teams
- Ryan Glasgow 18 snaps on defense; 14 snaps on special teams
- Jordan Evans 66 snaps on defense; 11 snaps on special teams
- Hardy Nickerson 1 snaps on defense; 23 snaps on special teams
- Cethan Carter 18 snaps on special teams
- Brandon Wilson 17 snaps on special teams
- Brian Hill 18 snaps on special teams
- John Ross (placed on IR on Wednesday)
Coming off his first 100 yard game against Cleveland last week, Mixon picked up right where he left off. His first four carries went for 27 yards and were part of the Bengals’ first touchdown drive in the first quarter, including this 10 yard zone read that ended up being his longest run of the day.
December 5, 2017
The Bengals offensive line was clearing paths for both Mixon and Giovani Bernard all night long, and both backs had productive outings because of it.
Halfway through the second quarter, on just his eighth touch of the night, Mixon took a play action screen back inside and charged up field. With linebackers Bud Dupree and Vincenzo Williams coming from behind and in front of him, the three collided just shy of the first-down marker:
December 5, 2017
The collision between Williams’ shoulder and Mixon’s head sent Mixon to the ground, where he would stay for a little while. Mixon suffered a concussion and subsequently did not pass the concussion protocol to return to the action. Mixon was the first of three Bengals to suffer concussions along with Dre Kirkpatrick and, as you may’ve heard, Vontaze Burfict.
It’s too early to tell if Mixon will be ready to suit up next Sunday against the Bears, but Mixon had another solid performance against an admirable run defending unit.
Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson
It was a quiet game for both of the Bengals rookie pass-rushers. Willis was on the field for special teams more than on defense, and Lawson saw his defensive snap percentage drop to the lowest since Week 9 against Jacksonville. Lawson’s lone official pressure came off a screen to Le’Veon Bell. He did record his first tackle for loss on Bell on the Steelers’ third-to-last play from scrimmage:
December 5, 2017
For as “physical” as this game was, not much pass rush from either team was really effective. For Lawson, at least, he gets a much more favorable matchup next Sunday as he faces a Bears offensive line that has given up 13 more sacks on 190 less drop backs.
Last week Malone was on the receiving end of the most controversial hit of the game. This week, he was on the receiving end of just the first controversial hit of the game:
December 5, 2017
Three minutes into the game, Andy Dalton found Malone over the middle on a simple drag route that would give the Bengals a third-and-short just inside the red zone. Malone was initially stopped by linebacker Ryan Shazier, who injured his back and was hospitalized immediately afterward.
Malone would get one more target later in the first quarter, and finished with those two catches for just nine yards. It was the third game of the year where Malone played more than 50 percent of the offense’s snaps.
Like with Willis and Lawson, Glasgow also wasn’t on the field too much. Pat Sims played more than Glasgow and Andrew Billings combined, which is less than ideal. All three defensive tackles, and even Geno Atkins had impotent games against the Steelers’ tough interior line.
As the linebacking corps of the Bengals becomes thinner by the week, we’ve been progressively seeing more Evans, and he started the first game of his career on Monday and played every single snap. A common theme I’ve seen from Evans is that he’s still a raw player in coverage and has gotten picked on a few times, including on Monday night:
December 6, 2017
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have done this to much better players than Evans, it’s a good learning experience for the rookie. Evans finished the game with four tackles and has 17 on the season in five games, but only three have come with three yards of the line of scrimmage.
Hardy Nickerson, Cethan Carter, Brandon Wilson and Brian Hill
Nickerson and Carter had solid special teams performances per usual. Wilson was the victim of the J.J. Wilcox holding penalty that negated a 96-yard Martavis Bryant kickoff return touchdown, and he was also injured during the game and his status is unknown for next week. Hill was active for the second time with the Bengals and was a Giovani Bernard injury from seeing the field with Mixon leaving the game in the second quarter. Hill never saw the field, but may have to depending on Mixon’s health.
There’s a lot more questions than answers when it comes to the health of the Bengals as we enter the final quarter of the season. The inactive list may be completely filled with injured players next Sunday against the Bears.