For the first time in almost two months, the Cincinnati Bengals were victorious, and kept their heads above the water in the AFC North race for the better part of an afternoon. Their 30-16 win over the Raiders looked like it was going to be much more dominating than it ended up being, but the home team managed to hold off a faint comeback attempt from Jon Gruden’s squad. This was the Bengals’ seventh-straight home finale win as well.
Here is how it all went down via our live blog:
Following the Raiders’ field goal, Jeff Driskel finally managed to hit a receiver in the hands down the field, and connected with C.J. Uzomah for a 27-yard gain on the third play of the drive. That helped set up a 22-yard catch and run for Giovani Bernard, who ended up inside the Raiders’ 10-yard line. three plays later, Driskel tried a squeeze a five-yard pass to John Ross, but was a half-second too late and Ross drops in out of bounds. Randy Bullock hit his third field goal of the game and gave the Bengals a 23-13 lead with just over 10 minutes to play.
The Raiders and Bengals each went three-and-out the following two drives for the Bengals and gained a total of -9 yards on six combined plays. The Raiders got the ball back and thanks to a couple of first downs, reached field goal range and a 40-yard field goal from Carlson made it a one-score game at 23-16.
The ensuing kickoff for the Raiders ended up being a 77-yard return from Alex Erickson, which helped set up Joe Mixon’s second touchdown from 16 yards out. The last time Mixon scored twice in a game, the Bengals won their last game.
Just the second multi-TD game of Mixon's career. Had two vs TB. #Bengals lead 30-16 with 4:04 to go— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonATH) December 16, 2018
The Bengals’ lead is now 30-16 with just 4:04 left to play.
Following Geno Atkins’ second and third sacks of the day, the Raiders had to give the ball back to the Bengals with just over two minutes to play. After converting a third down to Alex Erickson right at the two-minute warning, Driskel and the Bengals offense ran out the clock with the Raiders out of timeouts.
Three block-in-the-back penalties were thrown against the Bengals on their kickoff return and drive to start the second half; John Ross was responsible for two of them, with Auden Tate being charged for the first one. The flags cost the Bengals a couple first downs and forced a punt from midfield, giving the Raiders the ball back deep in their own side of the field. During the drive, Tyler Boyd (knee) and Jordan Evans (ankle) were each declared OUT.
The Raiders’ offense showed signs of life after a 32-yard Jalen Richard reception took them to the Bengals’ 33-yard line. They would only get one more yard as kicker Daniel Carlson knocked in a 50-yard field goal, decreasing the Bengals’ lead to 20-10.
Jeff Driskel’s struggles throwing the ball continue to plague the Bengals’ offense as the Raiders nearly took advantage of another three-and-out with a field goal after six-play drive that ended inside the Bengals’ 10-yard line. Carlson nailed another field goal to get diminish the Bengals’ lead to 20-13. The Raiders out-gained the Bengals by 77 yards in this quarter.
For the first time all season, the Bengals defense prevented a score in the final 2:44 of the first half, as they lead the Raiders 20-7.
Bengals go into halftime with a 20-7 lead, and the Raiders are the first team this season not to score on the Bengals in the final 2:44 of the first half.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) December 16, 2018
Thanks to a fortuitous matchup with the awful Kolton Miller at left tackle, Sam Hubbard has had the first half of a lifetime as well.
Sam Hubbard maybe the MVP of the Bengals in the first half. Had 2 sacks (one forced fumble recovered by the Bengals), and was the lead blocker at fullback on a Mixon 1 yd rushing TD.— Brennen Warner (@BrennenWarner) December 16, 2018
The Bengals will get the ball back to start the second half, and hope to hold onto to a win for the first time since Week 8.
Joe Mixon waited until this period to wake up. A 47-yard run took the offense inside the red zone, where a Jeff Driskel third down scramble took them inside the five-yard line. After a questionable play call on third down that had a Driskel throw targeting Sam Hubbard end up being deflected by former Bengal Frostee Rucker, Mixon capped off the 12-play 90-yard drive with his seventh touchdown of the year. The Bengals now lead 14-0.
Just two plays into the ensuing possession for Oakland, Hardy Nickerson forced a Jalen Richard fumble and the Bengals got the ball back again in Raiders territory. The Bengals managed to get just one first down and kicker Randy Bullock (on his 29th birthday) knocked in a 34-yard field goal to extend the Bengals’ lead to 17-0.
A 20-yard Seth Roberts reception subsequently set up a 44-yard Darren Waller reception with about 40 of those yards coming after a Nick Vigil missed tackle. Waller’s catch-and-run brought the Raiders to the Bengals’ one-yard line, where tight end Lee Smith caught his third touchdown of the season, all from the past three weeks. The Bengals’ lead is now 17-7.
The Raiders’ special teams unit and defense gave the Bengals 30 yards worth of penalties to start their next drive, but the Bengals’ offense stalls once more near the red zone and Bullock drills a 38-yard field goal to extend their lead to 20-7. Another Hubbard sack against Miller gave the ball back to the Bengals with less than two minutes remaining, but their offense continued to stall.
Vincent Rey, who was playing on defense due to a Jordan Evans injury, got rolled up on during the Bengals’ ensuing punt. With just 29 seconds remaining, the Raiders didn’t have much time to do anything with the ball, and a Derek Carr spike with 0:00 on the clock sent both teams into the locker rooms with score remaining 20-7.
Despite a Cody Core penalty on the opening kickoff, an encroachment penalty from Geno Atkins a couple plays later, and a dropped interception from Shawn Williams, the Raiders couldn’t make it past midfield on their first drive. After a four-yard Alex Erickson punt return, the Bengals offense took over and achieved a similar lack of success thanks to an Alex Redmond false start.
The Raiders took over again and after crossing the first down marker for the first time of the game, Sam Hubbard beat left tackle Kolton Miller like a drum and strip-sacked Derek Carr.
The Bengals got the ball back at their own 49-yard line and gave it back on the very next play when Driskel under threw John Ross by about five yards and safety Erik Harris intercepted the poor throw. The Raiders gave it right back to the Bengals after going three-and-out, where Hubbard almost notched his second strip-sack of the quarter.
With the ball back inside Raiders’ territory, Marvin Lewis decided to be aggressive once again this week and went for it on fourth-and-two after a John Ross screen came up just short on third down. Tyler Boyd converted on a seven-yard slant and hauled in another catch for 21 yards two plays later. That reception put him over 1,000 yards on the season, and he became the first Bengals receiver not named A.J. Green since Chad Johnson to cross 1,000 yards in a single season. Three plays later, Boyd caught another slant and scored the game’s first touchdown, putting the Bengals up 7-0.
He also added a little Irish jog to honor Johnson.
The Bengals still have a minuscule chance at making the playoffs, but aside from the unlikelihood of them winning out, they need plenty of help for that to happen.
It’s been a rough eight weeks for the Bengals, who are 1-7 in that stretch. Their performance against the Chargers last week was at the very least respectable, but the comparative lack of talent between the two squads showed up at the tail end of the game where they just couldn’t finish the job.
We may see some more emotionally-powered efforts in the near future as Cincinnati losing out could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, also known as Marvin Lewis’ employment.
As for the Raiders, they are coming to the Queen City after pulling off an upset against the Steelers. That secured their third win of the season, and they are looking to help the AFC West complete their sweep of the Bengals this week.
In the grand scheme of things, both of these teams ended up having a tumultuous season, it just took the Bengals a little bit longer for things to turn on them. The Bengals lost Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to injury during the middle of their losing streak. Meanwhile, the Raiders traded away two of their best players in Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper while the Bengals were still above .500.
It’s just a matter of whose season is about to get worse on Sunday.
How to watch the Bengals host the Raiders:
Game: Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) vs Oakland Raiders (3-10)
Date/Time: Dec. 16th, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Series Leader: Raiders lead the all-time series 18-10
Streak: Bengals have won the past two
Coaches vs. Opponent: Marvin Lewis: (3-2) vs. John Gruden (3-0)
Television: The game will air on CBS-TV. In the Bengals’ home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Andrew Catalon (play-by-play) and James Lofton (analyst).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).
SB Nation Raiders site: Silver and Black Pride
Weather: Mid 40’s, Mostly Cloudy [NFL weather]
Odds: Bengals open as, -3 [Odds Shark]