The Bengals had a pretty bad start to their game against the Las Vegas Raiders in large part due to a bad matchup. The Raiders have two of the best pass rushers in the league, Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby, and the Bengals struggle against teams that do not need to blitz on account of having elite pass rush specialists.
The Bengals’ tackles, predictably, allowed a decent amount of pressure. Jonah Williams gave up four pressures and Riley Reiff allowed six pressures.
And yet, quarterback Joe Burrow was eventually able to find a rhythm and complete 14 passes for first downs. Shortly after the passing game opened up and he got more comfortable, Burrow calmly floated a beautiful pass to Ja’Marr Chase in the left corner of the endzone for a fourth quarter touchdown that put the Bengals up by nine. Watch our recap below:
A big reason the Bengals looked better as the game progressed was the play of veteran center Trey Hopkins, who has struggled this year coming off of ACL surgery late last season. While Hopkins was a weak point for the line before this game, against the Raiders he earned a pass blocking grade of 79.6. More importantly, he allowed zero pressures.
Trey Hopkins kept a clean sheet in pass pro: 0 sacks, hits or hurries. He is (likely) the Bengals highest-graded pass protector vs Las Vegas.— Andrew Russell (@PFF_AndrewR) November 22, 2021
Trey Hopkins is the only Bengals blocker carrying his weight against the Raiders.— Willie Lutz (@willie_lutz) November 21, 2021
Hopkins’ excellent game in pass protection came immediately after The Enquirer’s Charlie Goldsmith reported that the center increased his amount of weekly rehab and began dressing for Wednesday practices instead of using it as a rest day. These are encouraging signs that he may have turned the corner on the season.
Now Hopkins and the offensive line get another big test, as they must face T.J. Watt for the first time this year along with Cam Hayward, who was not suspended for punching Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert last week. We preview the Bengals’ upcoming game against the Steelers in the video below:
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