The identity of the Bengals is still unknown, unless it’s simply just chaos.
After scoring four touchdowns and intercepting Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston three times in the first half, the Bengals we’re leading 27-9 and sitting pretty in the locker room at the half.
Suddenly, the offense went as cold as possible and the Buccaneers pulled the plug on Winston, allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to erase a 34-16 lead in the final minute of the game.
But unlike their last home game against the Steelers, the Bengals were the ones who drove down the field to win the game in the final seconds. Plenty of players performed at their best in this game, while a few underwhelmed.
Here are our winners and losers from the Bengals’ 37-34 win over the Buccaneers.
Tyler Boyd: There’s something about the NFC South for Boyd. With his 138-yard performance against Tampa Bay, he now has three 100-yard games on the season, all against NFC South defenses. Boyd also scored the game’s second touchdown, and he hauled in a team-leading nine receptions on 10 targets.
Joe Mixon: Boyd carried the passing game, but the first half belonged to Mixon. His 114 rushing yards from the first two quarters were the most by a Bengals running back in 10 years and is the most rushing yards in the first half from an NFL player this season.
Per ESPN Stats & Info: Joe Mixon's 114 rushing yards are the most in the 1st half by any player this season and most by a Bengal in a 1st half since Cedric Benson in 2008. Mixon is the 2nd player w/ 100 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs in a half this season along with Alvin Kamara— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) October 28, 2018
His two touchdowns also doubled his total on the season. This was the game the Bengals second-year tailback needed to get back on track, and despite not getting much of anything going in the second half, his first half production was impressive on its own. Mixon finished the game with 123 yards on 21 carries along with those two first half touchdowns.
Sam Hubbard: When Carl Lawson went down with a torn ACL on the first drive of the game, Hubbard’s day got a lot more busy. Thankfully, he stepped up when he was needed. On the drive when Lawson went down, Hubbard got a crucial pressure on quarterback Jameis Winston that lead to the first of four interceptions for Winston. He later sacked Winston for the second sack of his career.
Carlos Dunlap: Playing beside Hubbard, Dunlap had arguably his best game of the season, finishing with two sacks, three tackles for loss and two additional hits on Winston. This was great to see from Dunlap who was shut out against the Chiefs the week prior, and the Bengals defense will need Dunlap to keep producing down the road with Lawson out for the year.
Jordan Evans: With no Vontaze Burfict or Nick Vigil, Evans was all over the field for the Bengals defense. He recorded 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks with two quarterback hits and his first career interception. He did allow the Buccaneers’ final touchdown that decreased the Bengals’ lead to two, but his coverage on the play was fine. Evans has been playing in reserve for the Bengals constant injuries at linebacker, and today was his most impressive performance.
Jessie Bates III: Winston’s last pass attempt ended up in the arms of Bates, who then waltzed into the end zone for his third career interception and first career pick-six. Bates also got his hands on a few deep passes targeted towards DeSean Jackson, and made a couple impressive stops near the line of scrimmage. Bates, and the rest of the Bengals’ back seven took advantage of nearly every opportune moment against the struggling Winston; and Bates’ rookie season continues to amaze us.
Bill Lazor: What happened in the second half? Four consecutive three-and-outs from the offense probably can’t be pinned on just one person, but Lazor’s lack of adjustments in the third and fourth quarters nearly cost the Bengals the game. Andy Dalton also underwhelmed after facilitating the ball with precision in the first half, but Lazor’s play-calling was questionable at best when the Bengals could’ve put the nail in the coffin much earlier in the game.
C.J. Uzomah: Part of the Bengals offensive shut down in the second half was their failure to get their starting tight end involved. Uzomah finished with zero receptions on four targets. Both Matt Lengel and Jordan Franks notched a reception, and Uzomah just couldn’t get open and secure any of his targets.
Jordan Willis: The Bengals are really going to miss Carl Lawson, who is out for the year with a torn ACL, because Willis can still not win as a pass-rusher. Willis took the majority of Lawson’s snaps on third down and did pretty much nothing with them. He’s needed now more than ever with Lawson sidelined for the remainder of the year.
Hopefully Willis can kick things up a notch after the bye week.