Samaje Perine was not supposed to be a factor on the Bengals.
Since his rookie season in 2017, the former Oklahoma product had a total of 48 yards entering this season. That includes stints in Washington, Miami, and Cincinnati. And heading into this year, he was behind starter Joe Mixon, veteran Giovani Bernard, and second-year Trayveon Williams on the depth chart.
Then, Mixon went down with a season-ending foot injury and Williams never really found his footing. That left Perine splitting carries with Bernard. On Sunday, the two running backs combined for 160 yards on only 29 carries. Perine, though, was the true star. A performance that seemed to come from nowhere.
Here's how you know Samaje Perine's big game came as a surprise-- the pic below is what you see when you google his name. pic.twitter.com/P2oNATuTA9— Dadio Makdook (@dadiodefacto) December 30, 2020
Perine had 95 yards on only 13 carries. He also scored both rushing touchdowns, including a 46-yarder that put the Bengals ahead early in the third quarter. He added 4 receptions on just 4 targets for 41 yards in the passing game.
But the numbers don’t really do Perine justice. The man was ripping off long runs by spinning and powering through defenders. And he didn’t have the added luxury of playing with a premiere quarterback in Joe Burrow. It could be for those reasons that his Week 16 performance was graded higher than Mixon’s best game of the year, which came against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4. Mixon totaled 151 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on just 25 carries. And he caught 6 passes (on 6 targets) for 30 yards and another touchdown.
Mixon’s massive game earned him a Pro Football Focus overall grade of 77.3. Perine’s stunning display, meanwhile, earned him a grade of 89.3. Of course, Perine also had an excellent game in pass protection with a mark of 74.6 Mixon’s Week 4 pass blocking grade was 41.7. Both running backs earned run blocking grades of 60.0 in their big games.
We discuss the success of the run game against the Texans in the video below and ask whether the schemes Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan employed will continue to be successful against the Baltimore Ravens:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: