Joe Burrow knew he would be in for a challenge when the Bengals started four replacements on the offensive line. Surprisingly, Burrow faced pressure infrequently, and when he did he kept his cool and maintained control of the offense.
Burrow completed 26 of his 37 passes for 249 yards, two touchdowns, and impressively no sacks. Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Auden Tate all had six or more catches for 65 or more yards.
Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine were given the tough task of replacing Joe Mixon. The two rushed 25 times for 94 yards.
The Bengals got the ball to start the game, and Burrow set out to play behind his brand new offensive line. He kept the drive alive with some incredible plays, like one sideline that required Tee Higgins to tap his toes in bounds for a 24-yard gain. The drive stalled, and Randy Bullock started the scoring with a 33-yard field goal. The Bengals struck first, leading 3-0 with 9:48 to go in the first quarter.
The remainder of the first quarter was otherwise scoreless. As the first ended and the second began, the Bengals threatened to score again. A pass interference penalty gave the Bengals the ball at the one-yard line, and Samaje Perine powered through for his first touchdown as a Bengal. With the extra point, the Bengals led 10-0 with 10:26 left in the second quarter.
The Titans responded by feeding Derrick Henry. The first three plays of their next drive were handoffs to Henry that generated 30 rushing yards, plus an extra 15 on a horse-collar tackle penalty. Their first eight plays were runs, and their tenth play was a short rushing touchdown to Henry. After the 3-yard touchdown, the Titans kicked the extra point and were making a dent in the Bengals’ lead, down 10-7 with 6:04 to go in the first half.
The Bengals wanted to add another score before halftime, and they earned it. The decisive play was on fourth and four from the Titans’ 43-yard line. Burrow dropped back, and thanks to great protection, found Higgins for a 22-yard gain. With 32 seconds left in the half, Giovani Bernard converted a third-and-one into a 12-yard rushing touchdown. The extra point put the Bengals up 17-7 right before halftime.
The Titans punted and the Bengals’ got the ball at their own 14-yard line. Burrow spread the ball around and got the Bengals all the way down to the Titans’ 7-yard line. From there, Burrow connected with Boyd for the touchdown for his first scoring pass of the game. Boyd only had two catches before that drive, but had three catches during the drive. With 13:55 left in the fourth quarter, the Bengals’ led 24-7 after the extra point.
The Titans had the most success when they shoved Henry in between the tackles. On their next drive, they followed that game plan and drove down the field. A.J. Brown, who had been held in check for most of the game, made a few defenders miss for a 9-yard touchdown reception. After Stephen Gostowski’s extra point, the Titans were down only ten points with 11:20 remaining in the game.
Brandon Wilson set the Bengals up with a great kick return. After a crucial third-down catch from Boyd, Burrow fired a short pass to Bernard, who ran the ball in for a 6-yard touchdown reception. With 7:30 left in the game, the Bengals extended their lead to 31-14.
The Titans turned to the passing game due to the ticking clock, and scored in less than a minute and a half. Ryan Tannehill went five for six for 75 yards. The drive ended on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis. The Titans botched the extra point, so the score was 31-20 with 5:51 to go in the game.
The Bengals would get the next possession and keep the ball for the remainder of the game. The 31-20 score would be final.
The Bengals moved up to 2-5-1, while the Titans fell to 5-2. The Titans lost two in a row, both to AFC North opponents.
The Bengals will have a bye week next week before they go to face the division-leading Steelers.