Seven days after suffering a humiliating loss against he Kansas City Chiefs, the Cincinnati Bengals looked like the a totally different team in the first half. But, in typical Bengals fashion, the team jumped out to a fast start but looked totally inept in the second half.
After having a 27-6 lead, the Buccaneers tied it up at 34-34 with 1:10 left in the game. The Bengals actually marched down the field thanks to none other than A.J. Green and Randy Bullock came in for the 44-yard field goal.
Andy Dalton had an amazing first two quarters, passing for two touchdowns and a rating of 129.6. Joe Mixon added another two touchdowns in a 100-yard half for the second-year running back.
In the final two quarters, the Bengals only scored only 3 points, which came off of Bullock’s game-winning field goal.
Nonetheless, the Bengals walked away with a 37-34 win over the Buccaneers.
Both teams had been struggling to run the ball this season, but started off doing pretty well on the ground. Joe Mixon got out to a hot start with an 18-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Even though Mixon would get 10 more yards on the drive, he would get stopped short on fourth-and-one at the Buccaneers’ 20-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, the Buccaneers looked like they found a fix for their rushing woes as Peyton Barber took the ball six times and gained 27 yards. But despite getting near the red zone on each of the first two drives, neither team was able to score; the Bengals failed to convert on fourth down and Jameis Winston threw an interception to Shawn Williams in the end zone.
But let’s just back up, the Bengals actually went for it on fourth down! It was just unfortunate that they didn’t convert, but, it’s nice to see Marvin Lewis being a bit aggressive. The offense succeeded on their second fourth down try of the afternoon, though.
The Bengals got their offense going with a 32-yard pass from Andy Dalton to rookie tight end Jordan Franks. Yes, the practice squad tight end stepped up in a big way! Dalton found Tyler Boyd two plays later for 22 yards and set the Bengals up at the one-yard line. From there, Mixon scored an easy rushing touchdown, giving the Bengals a 7-0 lead after Randy Bullock’s extra point with 3:04 left in the opening quarter.
On the next drive, the Buccaneers threatened to score off of the legs of Barber. But when Tamp Bay approached the red zone, Sam Hubbard deflected Winton’s pass, and the ball fell into the arms of Preston Brown for an all-locals interception.
Dalton came out strong on the next drive and found four different receivers, with six completions in nine attempts with 51 yards. He found Boyd twice for 17 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown with 10:04 left in the second quarter, turning the interception into points. Bullock’s extra point extended the Bengals lead to 14-0.
After forcing a punt, Boyd and Mixon kept doing what they had been doing. The first play was a pass to Boyd for 19 yards, the second play was a 15-yard Mixon run, third play was a 26-yard Boyd catch, and the final play was an eight-yard rushing touchdown from Mixon.
Mixon gets in the endzone again pic.twitter.com/sMiVODucZ2— Dadio McDuck (@dadiodefacto) October 28, 2018
Needless to say, the duo was having a great half.
6-112-1 receiving for Tyler Boyd— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 28, 2018
12-66-2 rushing for Joe Mixon
With Bullock’s extra point, the Bengals were now leading 21-0 with 5:07 to go until halftime.
The Buccaneers scored on the next drive, taking advantage of a personal foul from Hubbard. Winston went deep to DeSean Jackson, and William Jackson—who was in coverage—seemed to hold up at the end of the play and let the receiver trot into the end zone. Chandler Catanzaro missed the extra point, so the Buccaneers only scored six on the play, but still decreased the Bengals’ lead to 21-6 with 4:36 remaining in the quarter.
Mixon would join Boyd in the 100 yard club before halftime on the following drive after breaking out a 43 yard run, the longest of his career. Clint Boling and Trey Hopkins did an excellent job of blocking out in front of him and Mixon made defenders miss all the way down to the 17-yard line.
The Bengals followed that up with a toss from Dalton to the back corner of the end zone, allowing A.J. Green to “Moss” the defender and hold on to the ball for a touchdown. Only Green’s second catch of the day, the Bengals looked like they were in good shape to hold onto a halftime lead with 2:34 left in the quarter, 27-6 after Bullock’s missed extra point. The missed kick would end up becoming a huge factor in the game.
Unfortunately, Boling was injured on the drive and lost for the rest of the game due to a back injury. Carl Lawson was also ruled out with a knee injury and was later confirmed to be out for the year with a torn ACL.
With a little more than two minutes to play, Winston led a quick drive down to the red zone. The quarterback only completed five of 11 passes, but with his 52 passing yards was able to set up a 25-yard field goal from Catanzaro to give the Buccaneers an extra three points before halftime, but they still trailed 27-9.
This was the seventh time this season the Bengals have allowed their opponent to score inside the final two minutes of the first half. The only time the Bengals have prevented this was in Week 3, but gave up a score with 2:47 to go in the half against the Panthers.
Marvin Lewis would have had to be extremely happy about the turnaround his team showed the week after getting blown out by the Chiefs. Both Boyd and Mixon had more than 100 yards in the first half with three touchdowns between the two of them. Green only had two catches, but one of them was the spectacular touchdown at the end of the second quarter. Dalton was dealing in those first two quarters with 192 yards, two touchdowns, and a rating of 129.6.
The Buccaneers came out of the locker room rolling, and Winston overcame several penalties and a sack to get to the red zone. Wide receiver Adam Humphries had two catches for 31 yards on the drive, including a 16-yard pass initially ruled a touchdown, but was placed at the one-yard line after review. The Bengals couldn’t keep the Buccaneers out of the end zone, however, and Barber leapt across the goal line one play later.
So after holding the Buccaneers to six points in the first 29:54, the visitors had scored twice in 5:48. The Bengals’ lead was slowly decreasing, now ahead only 27-16 with 9:18 left in the third quarter after Catanzaro’s extra point.
Winston completely fell apart over the next several drives. The Bengals’ offense couldn’t get anything going, so they kept punting the ball away. But Winston overthrew his tight end Cameron Brate, and Bengals linebacker Jordan Evans came up with his first career interception. The Bengals punted on the next drive, but then Jessie Bates III picked off Winston and returned the ball 21 yards for a touchdown; it was the first pick six of his career. With 13:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, Bullock helped the Bengals increase their lead to 34-16.
Bates gets the pick 6. Can we replace the Steelers with the Bucs in the afc north? pic.twitter.com/0EUXf958lK— Dadio McDuck (@dadiodefacto) October 28, 2018
After throwing his fourth interception, the Buccaneers made a change at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick, former Bengal and internet sensation, came in for Winston after the pick-six. “Fitzmagic” completed all three of his passes for 33 yards and scrambled once for 18 yards, making him the teams’ second-leading rusher after only one carry. His scramble fell short of the chains, but set up a 38-yard field goal with 12:54 remaining in the game. Now the Buccaneers were only down by two touchdowns, trailing the Bengals 34-18.
The Bengals offensive silence continued, and they followed up the field goal with their third straight three-and-out. Fitzpatrick looked magical on the next drive after floating a 72-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans. With the extra point, the Buccaneers were only down eight points with 9:57 left to go in the game. Even though the Bengals had exploded in the first half, the offense had scored no points in the second and had let the Buccaneers creep back into the game with a score of 34-26. What happened to the first half offense?!
Just as the Buccaneers looked like they could take the lead, the Bengals’ offense finally came alive when they needed to the most. After four straight three-and-outs netting 14 yards, the Bengals dialed up the heat and moved the ball to plus territory for the first time in two quarters. The drive ended up netting 31 yards, but ended in a punt. Backed up at the Buccaneers’ own 12-yard line, Fitzpatrick had to drive the length of the field and score a two-point conversion with only 3:08 left in the game and no timeouts.
It only took Fitzmagic 36 seconds to reach the Bengals’ side of the field. At the two-minute warning, the Bucs were at the Bengals’ 18-yard line and the “Amish Rifle” was 4-of-6 with 43 yards on the drive at the break.
The Bengals forced a fourth-and-three, but Fitzpatrick hit tight end O.J. Howard running a seam to the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown. The Buccaneers went for two in order to tie it, and Fitz truly made magic. First, the Buccaneers quarterback dodged a sack from Hubbard, then unleashed a rocket through a tight window to Chris Godwin for two points. The score was now tied at 34 and the Bengals were really wishing they had that extra point that Bullock had missed earlier.
Dalton got the ball back with 1:10 to go in the game and two timeouts. Dalton found Green twice in a row for 34 total yards to set up the Bengals at the 25-yard line to make an easy field goal opportunity for Bullock. The 44-yard attempt was good as time expired, and the Bengals escaped a close call to win, 37-34.
The Bengals take the win into their bye week as they get ready to challenge for first place in the division.