Jeff Driskel won his first game as a starter in the Bengals’ home finale. The Raiders were coming off a win against the Steelers but were unable to produce enough offense to keep up with Joe Mixon and the Bengals, who scored 30 points for the first time since Week 7 against the Buccaneers, which is also the last time the Bengals had won a football game.
Despite hanging on for the win, Driskel had his worst game of the season, finishing with 130 yards on 14 completions and 33 attempts with a rating of 51.3. Despite this, Driskel and the Bengals got the win, and Driskel wasn’t the only Bengal to enjoy a career accomplishment in this week.
Tyler Boyd became the first Bengals receiver not named A.J. Green to surpass 1,000 yards in a single season since Chad Johnson in 2009. He was a huge part of the offense and was Driskel’s favorite receiver in the first half. His production was limited to four catches with 38 yards and a touchdown because he left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. The offense took a dive in production without him but was still able to hold on to the lead, mostly because of Joe Mixon.
Mixon finished the game with 129 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. This was his third 100-yard performance of the season and second game with multiple scores, and when Driskel couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn, the offense lived and died by Mixon.
The first quarter was low scoring to start. The Bengals kept the Raiders offense to minimal yardage with help from their front four. One the Raiders’ second drive, Sam Hubbard beat Raiders OT Kolton Miller around the edge and strip-sacked Derek Carr. Carlos Dunlap fell on the loose ball, but the Bengals could not capitalize on the turnover as Jeff Driskel threw an interception to Erik Harris on the very next play.
The ensuing punt gave the Bengals good field position, so the Bengals easily took the ball into scoring range. After a fourth down conversion to Tyler Boyd, Driskel found him again for a 21-yard gain. This catch put Boyd over 1,000 yards for the season for the first time in his career, and it was the first time since 2009 that the Bengals have had a 1,000-yard receiver other than A.J. Green.
Driskel kept feeding Boyd and the two connected for a six-yard touchdown on third-and-goal with exactly three minutes to play in the opening quarter. After the extra point, the Bengals were ahead 7-0 to take the game’s first lead.
But more importantly, Boyd finally had the opportunity to break out the touchdown celebration he had been planning since Week 10 to honor Chad Johnson.
On the next drive, Mixon also achieved a career milestone by recording a career-long 47-yard rush. Driskel joined in the rush and broke off a 14-yard run to get the ball to the four-yard line. But the Bengals couldn’t make much progress on the first three chances, so on fourth down, Mixon ran the ball right up the middle for the score.
After going zero-for-two on fourth down in Week 14, the Bengals were now two-for-two against the Raiders. Randy Bullock converted the extra point and the Bengals were ahead 14-0 with 10:17 until halftime.
Marvin Lewis goes for it again on 4th, Mixon gets the TD. Previous play was a pass attempt to Hubbard. Lewis is being super aggressive (by his standards) pic.twitter.com/FMeCsdlBMZ— Dadio Makdook (@dadiodefacto) December 16, 2018
On the next drive, Raiders’ running back Jalen Richard lost the football after Darqueze Dennard swiped it right out of his arms and recovered the fumble. The Bengals got the ball at the Raiders’ 34-yard line and, after some tough running from Mixon, were able to convert the turnover into a field goal. Bullock’s 34-kick was good with 6:41 left in the half, and the Bengals were up 17-0.
The Raiders finally got their offense rolling, thanks in part to a long reception from tight end Darren Waller. The 44-yard reception to Waller set the Raiders up at the one-yard line, where Carr threw a short pass to Lee Smith for their first points of the game with 3:48 remaining in the quarter. After the extra point, the score was 17-7.
Alex Erickson returned the kickoff 41 yards, and a face mask penalty on kicker Daniel Carlson added an extra 15 yards to get the Bengals in plus territory, making this the third time the Bengals would start on the Raiders side of the 50-yard line.
A taunting penalty on the next play would move the Bengals up another 15 yards, so their first official snap of the drive was on the Raiders’ 31-yard line. But all the Bengals were able to get out of it was a 38-yard field goal from Bullock with 1:39 to go in the half. The half would end with a score of 20-7.
In the first half, Mixon carried the ball for an astounding 15 carries and 84 yards. His ability to grind out tough yards in between the tackles was key to helping the Bengals convert third and fourth downs.
The Bengals turned up the pressure on the defensive line, which allowed Hubbard to record his first career game with multiple sacks. The defensive line was a big reason why Carr had a 47.8 completion percentage at halftime.
Behind the line, William Jackson, Darqueze Dennard, and Shawn Williams were having a great game in the secondary with four pass deflections and eight tackles between the three of them in the first half.
Carr would round into form in the second half, going four-for-four for 47 yards on his first drive. But one of those passes was to himself after Michael Johnson batted the ball down at the line of scrimmage and Carr instinctively caught his own pass. The play would end up losing nine yards, which created a third-and-long that the Raiders couldn’t convert. Carlson came in and made the 50-yard kick with 6:27 left in the third quarter, now trailing by only 10 points in a 20-10 game.
After a punt, Carr found Jordy Nelson deep for 44-yards to get the Raiders in goal-to-go situation. But the Bengals defense held, so Carlson had to come in for a chip-shot field goal. his 27-yarder with 2:38 left in the third quarter made the score 20-13.
The Bengals got the ball back and had to grind out the tough yards to move the chains. Driskel, Mixon, and Giovani Bernard all were involved in rushing the ball down to the four-yard line. But the drive would end there and Bullock game in for the 23-yard kick with 10:46 left in the fourth quarter to extend the Bengals’ lead to 23-13.
A good punt return from Dwayne Harris got the Raiders into Bengals’ territory, but the drive stalled as Carlson came in for a 40-yard attempt with 5:05 remaining in the game. The Raiders had all three timeouts and the two-minute warning, so if they got the ball back quickly they were still in a good position, only down 23-16.
The Raiders would not get off so easily, though, as Erickson would rip off a 77-yard kick return to get the ball to the Raiders’ 21-yard line. Two plays later, Mixon took the ball around the outside all the way to the house. So the Bengals quickly responded with a 15-yard touchdown from Mixon to extend their lead to 30-16 after Bullock’s extra point with 4:04 left in the game.
With the Raiders desperately needing offense, Geno Atkins got back-to-back sacks to force a punt on fourth-and-17. That would do it for the Bengals, as they would let Mixon run the clock down.
After securing their first win in eight weeks, the Bengals playoff hopes remained alive as the team improved to 6-8. They have two road games ahead to finish out the season at Cleveland and at Pittsburgh, however, before all is said and done.