When the Bengals have won this year, almost always did a rookie have a big impact on the game. This rookie class for Cincinnati has created numerous signature moments in the team’s six victories, and that was the case once again for a rookie we’ve grown quite familiar with now.
Here is our rundown for all of the Bengals’ rookies in their Week 15 win over the Raiders.
Bengals fans who bleed scarlet and gray surely had some conflicting emotions when former Buckeye and current Raiders nose tackle Johnathan Hankins had one of his better games of the season going up against Price. Hankins ate the rookie’s lunch a couple of times in the run game and got to Driskel in the pass rush on what was nothing more than a half-swim move, but Price held his own outside of those encounters. He got clean to the second level and helped pave the way for a few big runs from Joe Mixon.
It was a rather uninspiring day at the office for Bates III, as he finished with a handful of tackles and actually a missed a few along the way as well. In one drive, he was involved in a miscommunication with Darqueze Dennard that lead to a big pass down the field to Jordy Nelson.
Just a few plays later, the Raiders’ one touchdown through the air was caught where Bates should’ve been had he not fallen for the play action fake with the rest of the defense. Luckily, another rookie on the defensive side of the ball looked utterly dominant in the first half.
The Bengals had the joy of beating up on the Raiders, and specifically, Hubbard had the joy of beating up on rookie left tackle Kolton Miller.
Miller was drafted with the 16th overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, and he looked the part of a middle schooler learning how to take a pass set.
In the first half alone, Hubbard beat Miller around the edge and sacked quarterback Derek Carr twice, the first one being a strip-sack that the Bengals capitalized on.
Near the end of the second quarter, Hubbard embarrassed Miller once more.
And in between those two plays, Hubbard got his usual time as a fullback. He even got a target out of the backfield before he paved the way for Mixon’s first touchdown.
This was by far Hubbard’s best game of his young career, but it’s not the expectation going forward with him. Not every week will he play a tackle as bad as Miller, and his six sacks on the year is a good base for him to hit each season going forward.
When Jordan Evans first went to the sideline when he injured his ankle, Jefferson came onto the field for a snap as the emergency reserve. He stayed on the sidelines while Vincent Rey filled in for Evans when the defense was in their base personnel. He played 15 snaps on special teams as well, but also suffered an apparent foot injury and was placed on injured reserve today. Chris Worley, an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State, will take Jefferson’s place on the roster after remaining on the practice squad up until now.
Since the Bengals’ Week 9 bye, Walton has gotten just three offensive snaps. Special teams has been where Walton has been busy, and he certainly was in this game. In his 23 snaps on special teams, Walton had two tackles and was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on a kickoff that resulted in a touchback. One of those tackles was an impressive shoe-string stop shown here:
While Jefferson got that one snap in for the injured Evans, Phillips was rushed onto the field for two snaps when William Jackson went out for an appeared injury in his midsection. Jackson returned to the field and Phillips did not except for special teams, where he 17 snaps.
In a span of five plays at the start of the second half, the Bengals were penalized three times. The first was against Tate on the Raiders’ kickoff to start the half, where Tate was flagged for a clear holding at the end of the return. Penalties on special teams would’ve hurt Tate’s chances of being active when the Bengals’ receiving corps was healthy, but with Tyler Boyd now likely out for the remainder of the season, Tate will likely get the chance to improve his play on kickoff teams. He finished with nine special teams snaps and none on offense.
Christian Ringo had 34 snaps behind starting defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Andrew Billings, while Scott had just five. The Raiders weren’t running the ball very much once they got behind on the scoreboard, so the rookie nose tackle Scott had limited opportunity to showcase his run defense.
Did not play
The Bengals have a chance to play spoiler to the Browns’ slim playoff chances right before Christmas next week, but the rookie trio of Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Antonio Calloway will be tough for even this recent Bengals’ defense to contain. We’ll see if Tate also gets a chance on offense with Boyd’s availability being a big question mark going forward.