What a game.
Both offenses from the Bengals and the Falcons put up a display of fireworks, which is essentially what we expected this week. And, as has been with much of the season so far, the “Cardiac Cats” showed up down south.
Here are some of the biggest winners and losers in Cincinnati’s win over Atlanta in Week 4.
Andy Dalton: At one point, from the first half and into the middle of the third quarter, Dalton had completed 13 straight passes. Unfortunately, as was the case last week, Dalton was the victim of some poor plays by his receiving corps. On a pass to Tyler Kroft, it appeared to bounce off of his hands and went for an Atlanta interception (it should also be noted that it appeared that Kroft was interfered with, but wasn’t called).
Dalton shook it all off and led a masterful game-winning drive to put the Bengals at a much-needed 3-1 start to the season. He finished with three touchdown passes and 337 yards on 29-41 passing.
Tyler Eifert: Eifert could technically be labeled a “loser” because of suffering another gruesome injury that could threaten the rest of his season, but in seeing him get misty-eyed as he was carted off of the field, I can’t put that tag on him. Get on me if you want, but it’s not happening.
Furthermore, Eifert was outstanding in the first half before the ankle injury, nabbing four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. Let’s hope he can return at some point this season. Otherwise, this very well may be the last time we see him in a Bengals uniform.
Get well, “Eif.”
Giovani Bernard: Cincinnati’s offense has missed Joe Mixon to be sure, but No. 25 continues to prove his versatility and overall worth. It also has to be noted that Bernard was the only active running back late in the game, after Mark Walton left to undergo concussion protocol.
Bernard had two rushing touchdowns, along with 69 yards on the ground. He also added four receptions and 27 receiving yards, while continuing to also help out on in pass protection.
Adriel. Jeremiah. Green: After having a pretty quiet game, Green and Dalton came up with the play of the game. With just 12 seconds to play, Dalton hit his sliding Pro Bowl wideout for the game-winning score.
Green finished with four grabs for 78 yards and the clinching touchdown—his fifth in four games.
John Ross: After hearing his name being dragged through the mud all week, the second-year receiver stepped up in a big way on Sunday. He split the Falcons’ secondary for a pretty 39-yard touchdown catch and had another nice toe-tapper on the sideline in the third quarter for a first down.
Tyler Boyd: This kid just keeps producing. On a couple of occasions, Boyd appeared to come up a little gimpy, but he just made play after play on Sunday.
Many of his 11 catches were for first downs, including four of them moving the sticks on the team’s final drive on third and fourth downs. He finished with 100 receiving yards and had a toe-to-toe showing against his counterpart and guy he replaced in Mohamed Sanu.
Teryl Austin: Theoretically, we could throw the entire unit under the bus, but the guys up front did make some plays. We’re going to highlight the corners, in a second, but they weren’t well-aided by Jessie Bates III and Shawn Williams frequently also being out of position.
It was the second consecutive week in which the Bengals’ defense failed to net a turnover (supposedly one of Austin’s fortes), missed easy tackles and continued to have trouble getting off of the field on third down. You just can’t win many NFL games giving up an average of about 30 points per contest—which is where the Cincinnati defense currently sits.
William Jackson III and Dre Kirkpatrick: It seems as if Jackson has over-bought into the overwhelming amount of hype he received this offseason. Though going up against Sanu, Calvin Ridley, and Julio Jones isn’t an easy task, but the duo was victimized frequently in the shootout.
Ridley scored a touchdown with Jackson on coverage in the first half, and beat Kirkpatrick for another later in the game. Meanwhile, both Sanu and Jones had big catches as well throughout the game—largely on third downs against both Bengals starting corners.
The offensive line: Bobby Hart had a false start, and allowed two sacks, while also being a victim of a poor illegal use of hands to the face call by the officials (another trend of the game), which negated a touchdown pass to Green that would have given the Bengals a 35-33 lead at the time. They settled for a field goal instead to make it 31-33.
Meanwhile, Alex Redmond had his own trademark holding call, which has become a weekly occurrence. We keep waiting for changes at those two spots, but it doesn’t seem to be coming.
And, finally, Cordy Glenn struggled against speed rushers for the second consecutive week, letting Vic Beasley by him to hit Dalton on more than one occasion, while also having an illegal hands penalty of his own to nearly kill the game-winning drive.
Familiar, much? Next.
Darrin Simmons: When you give up a 53-yard opening kickoff return and have a blocked punt deep in your own territory, it’s not a banner day for the unit. Tony McRae also jumped offsides in consecutive Falcons field goal opportunities, making the ineptitude complete in the third phase of the game.