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What we learned from the Bengals’ tie with the Eagles

The Bengals should have won this game.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals really should have won their Week 3 game against the Eagles.

For most of the game, the Eagles were missing their top receiver, one of two of their top tight ends, several offensive linemen, and two starting cornerbacks. In their current state, the Eagles should not even tie with anyone.

As battered as the Eagles were, the Bengals finally stopped the run game. Unfortunately, they could only scrape together 23 points.

A large part of that were the eight sacks Joe Burrow had to endure. He still passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns, but was constantly having to make up for lost yardage.

But in all honesty, that was one of the most winnable games on the Bengals’ schedule this year. If they can’t defeat the Eagles, they can’t win any games in their current state.

Zac Taylor needs to figure out a way to turn things around or he might be picking first overall again. Or another coach will be making the Bengals’ pick.

Here’s what we learned from the Bengals’ tie with the Eagles:

The Bengals need to play every drive like it’s the two-minute drill

Burrow seems to do his best when there’s pressure.

In first quarter drives this year, the Bengals have scored one touchdown, one field goal, and punted five times. Against the Eagles, the first four drives ended in punts, while the last seven drives of regulation either resulted in a score or the end of the half.

In overtime, all the Bengals could do was punt.

The Bengals’ offense moves best when they have to take the lead.

Perhaps this is something inside Burrow’s head. Maybe he only does well under pressure. Or perhaps it has to do with playcalling. Maybe Zac Taylor doesn’t want to risk giving the ball away in a low stakes scenario.

Whatever the reason is, the Bengals need to do whatever they do during the two-minute warning. That’s the only thing that seems to work.

Carl Lawson needs more snaps

The Bengals’ defensive line stepped up after being demolished by Cleveland in Week 2. Carlos Dunlap led the team in tackles, D.J. Reader helped get pressure, and Sam Hubbard had a sack and a couple tackles for a loss.

But Carl Lawson was the most threatening player on the line.

He let Wentz escape from a sack early on, but made up for it with two more later in the game. He was also a brick wall in the run game. Lawson had eight combined tackles and one for a loss against Myles Sanders.

While the Bengals gave up 118 yards to the Eagles’ run game in the first half, they gave up less than half of that in the remainder of regulation. The run game looked a lot better, and a large part was due to the defensive line.

Lawson not only got to the quarterback, but was one of the better run defenders on Sunday.

The current group of receivers works the best

There has been some drama in the wide receiver room. Auden Tate feared he might not get playing time, so he has been considering asking for a trade. Taylor made good on his claim that it had nothing to do with his skills and put him back in the lineup in Week 3. John Ross was a healthy scratch.

Tate was targeted four times for two receptions and 29 yards on Sunday.

Tyler Boyd was force fed the ball as he continues to be the Bengals WR1. A.J. Green was stifled by Darius Slay, but still had five catches. Tee Higgins had two touchdowns. Even Mike Thomas had two receptions.

This seems to be the group Burrow has the most chemistry with. Boyd and Higgins are becoming his favorite targets. Tate and Thomas are two that Burrow can also trust. Green is Green.

At this point, it’s going to be difficult for Ross to get back onto the field. Alex Erickson seems like his only contributions will be on special teams.