Slot receivers have done exceptionally well against the Buccaneers this season, and Tyler Boyd was no different.
In the Bengals’ 37-34 win over the Buccaneers in Week 8, Boyd had nine catches on 10 targets for 138 yards (averaging 15.3 yards a catch) and a touchdown. He was the the NFL’s second-leading receiver in Week 8, finishing behind his opponent Mike Evans.
“He has played really well,” Andy Dalton said of his new favorite target. “He understands what we are doing. He runs great routes and he is playing with a ton of confidence...He obviously had a big day today.”
So far, Boyd has more receptions on the year than perennial Pro Bowler A.J. Green, and has only 67 yards and one touchdown fewer. Did you ever think Boyd would nearly be able to match Green’s production?
“I think I did a real great job of helping A.J.,” Boyd said after the game. “He was getting double (teamed) pretty much at the beginning of the game a lot, so we needed guys to step up and make plays. Once I made those plays, they stopped doubling him and playing a little bit of zone. Once the game goes like that, they start doubling me and vice-versa. We’ve just got each other’s back. We’ve got guys out there that can make plays whenever it’s crucial.”
Boyd had six catches for 112 yards and a touchdown in the first half, while Green only had two catches for 27 yards. So the Tampa Bay defense bottled up Boyd in the second half, letting Green get three more catches for nearly 50 yards, including some crucial yardage on the drive that led to Randy Bullock’s game-winning field goal.
“That’s what we try and do. When you try and take me away, guys step up and Tyler has been doing that all year,” said Green. “We’ve got to stay balanced.”
Dalton seemed to agree.
“When A.J. (Green) is getting doubled — they can’t double everybody — and he (Boyd) has been finding ways to get open,” said Dalton.
Dalton loves the matchup that Boyd creates when he is one-on-one. Boyd has the athleticism and the strong hands to make a difficult day for any defensive back trying to cover him. He always finds ways to get open, which is why Dalton loves throwing to him.
“When you get one-on-ones with him, and with the different things he can do, I feel like we are going to try to get him the ball,” said the quarterback. “He is one of our big playmakers on offense. When A.J. is doubled and he is singled up, we feel very strongly about that matchup.”
The matchup was working wonders in the first half, but when the Bengals offense fell strangely silent in the second half, Boyd had much fewer opportunities. He, like the rest of the offense, knew they had to step up once the game was tied in order to get in a position to win the game.
“Once we knew they scored and we had a minute left, we knew we had enough time with two timeouts,” Boyd said. “We knew we had the talent to push the ball consecutively. We just have to stay calm and (keep) pushing.”
The offense did, in fact, keep pushing and the team walked away with a three-point margin of victory.
“It definitely came down to the wire, but at the end of the day, we did a great job on offense and the defense, they did a great job,” Boyd said.” They had a lot of turnovers. The game went up and down. That’s the league now. I’m just thankful and happy we got the win at the end of the day.”
As it stands, the Bengals are still in good position to make the playoffs. Losing this game would have meant an uphill climb in the division after the bye.
“That would have been a horror (show),” Boyd said of the difference between 5-3 and 4-4. “That would have stung. None of us would have wanted to go home on a loss. I think it’s great momentum for this team to come back and win and continue to win. Us not carrying any negative energy around helps a lot.”
We’ll see how much it helps when the Bengals face the Saints in Week 10. For now, they’ll have a bye week to rest and prepare for the second half of the season.