There was not a lot to be excited about after Week 3 if you’re a Bengals fan.
The Bengals failed to snap their skid and spoil the Bills’ home opener. Despite the fact that the offense racked up less than 100 yards in the first half, the Bengals actually took the lead late in the fourth quarter, only to squander it moments later.
On the bright side, Joe Mixon finally looked like Joe Mixon.
After only two carries, Mixon surpasses his Week 1 production. With the next carry, Mixon surpassed his Week 2 production. In the first half, despite having only four carries, Mixon had set a new season high in rushing yards.
On the whole, Mixon had 15 carries for 61 yards with a 14-yard long. All of those were season highs and a welcome sight for sore eyes. He also added two catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.
Mixon is the focal point of this offense, especially when A.J. Green is still sidelined, and that was never more obvious than it was in Week 3. In the first half, the Bengals were constantly behind the chains, so Zac Taylor called a lot of passes. Mixon only had four carries, and the Bengals scored no points.
In the second half, Taylor changed up the game plan and gave Mixon 11 carries and schemed two passes in his direction. The Bengals scored 17 points.
There were a lot of things that went wrong in the Bengals’ loss to the 49ers in Week 2. The Bengals have yet to correct most of them, but the running game is the one area they don’t have to keep working on.
Mixon’s 5.45 yards a carry is a huge boost to this offense. The Bengals didn’t use him as much as they should have since they were playing from behind for most of the game.
Therein lies the irony: if the Bengals fail to use Mixon early in the game, they won’t have the opportunity to use him late in the game.
The Bengals need to be able to use him whenever they can. They can’t afford not to.