Winning ugly doesn’t always look the same, but two-score victories are always welcomed in the NFL.
That’s ultimately how the Cincinnati Bengals will view this victory. It was far from pretty, but when the opposition makes more mistakes and gifts free opportunities, taking advantage can make all the difference and then some.
This team doesn’t normally take care of business coming off bye weeks, but here the Bengals are at 6-4 in an embarrassingly open AFC. Here are the winners and losers from Sunday’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
Joe Mixon: The 25-year old from just outside Oakland loves dominating the Raiders. Mixon had trouble getting back to the line of scrimmage at times in Vegas, but the big plays came when they were needed. He tacked on 123 yards and two touchdowns to his already impressive 2021 campaign.
Sam Hubbard: The Cincinnati native played box score bingo on Sunday. Hubbard notched a sack, tackle for loss, and fumble recovery—all in the second half—to go with three solo tackles. His fumble recovery went for 40 yards and got the Bengals into field goal range one last time.
Eli Apple: The last time Eli Apple intercepted a pass was in 2018. The much-maligned cornerback has had his fair share of problems this season, but he hauled in a clutch takeaway to snuff out the Raiders’ fourth-quarter comeback attempt. The secondary as a whole took away Las Vegas’ passing game save for their lone touchdown drive.
Evan McPherson: The missed extra point wasn’t ideal, but three 50+ yard field goals and a 47-yarder to boot is as good a day you’ll see from a kicker. For most of the game, he was the Bengals’ offense. He won’t always get to play indoors, but he’s absolutely taken advantage of both opportunities he’s had his year.
Tyler Boyd: The Bengals knew Boyd had been an afterthought in their passing game of late, so they featured him often in first half offense, converting multiple first downs like he’s always been known to do. He finished as the team’s leading receiver with 49 yards on six receptions.
Stanley Morgan Jr. and Drew Sample: Running the ball against the Raiders proved to be difficult at times. While the offensive line struggled to generate movement, Morgan and Sample showed their worth as run-blockers. Morgan created a huge hole for Mixon’s second quarter touchdown, and Sample had a couple big blocks of his own.
Mike Hilton and Jessie Bates: Cincinnati’s defense responded well coming off the bye, and their two leaders in the secondary were key components to that. Hilton and Bates had solid tackling days as both made multiple stops near the line of scrimmage. This is the ideal start to the second half of the year for Bates.
Offensive line: There’s still so much left to be desired from the unit up front. Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff had predictable issues against the Raiders’ two-headed attack of Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby off the edge, and Trey Hopkins continued to give up ground in run game. Quinton Spain even gave up more penetration than he’s accustomed to allowing. The line limited what the offense was able to do for the better part of three quarters.
Logan Wilson: The Wilson of September looks nothing like this newer version. He continued to miss tackles and was inconsistent at executing his fits. On the Raiders’ lone score, Wilson was late to matchup with Foster Moreau and proceeded to give up the touchdown in coverage. They need Wilson to play better against offenses that are more consistent.
The field: Someone has to say it. It’s been almost exactly a year since Joe Burrow’s torn ACL and my God the Raiders’ field looked worse than Washington’s last year. This isn’t a Bengals loser, this is an NFL loser. Fix that crap ASAP.