The 20-17 score did not reflect the awfulness Cincinnati’s offense displayed against a talented Chicago defense, as they went scoreless on eight of their first nine drives. Garbage time almost became crunch time as the Bears did their best to give the game away, but this was a loss the Bengals truly earned.
Here are the winners and losers from the three-point defeat in the Windy City.
Trey Hendrickson: The $60 million man took advantage of a great matchup and got his first sack of his Bengals career on Justin Fields at the end of the second quarter. He later strip-sacked Fields, which was almost returned for a touchdown by Logan Wilson. Hendrickson had the chance to stop the Bears one last time, but Fields slipped through his grasp with just two minutes remaining. That play aside, Hendrickson balled out.
Logan Wilson: He may not have recovered that fumble, but Wilson made up for it by intercepting Fields late in the fourth quarter to give the Bengals some life. He would’ve been the game’s MVP had he scooped the ball up earlier, though.
D.J. Reader: Another solid performance by the Bengals’ multipurpose nose tackle. Reader had a key second down sack in the second quarter that helped the Bengals eventually get the Bears off the field.
Tyler Boyd: The Bengals’ leading receiver had a nice game from start to finish. Boyd created ample separation on all seven of his receptions and churned out 73 yards on nine targets. With Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase quiet for most of the day, Boyd stepped up like he usually does.
Zac Taylor: In his third year, with 26 losses now to just seven wins, these are the days that can put Taylor’s job security in jeopardy. He won’t be fired tomorrow, but if the season takes a wrong turn, it’ll be days like Sunday we’ll look back on as justification.
This was arguably the worst game the Bengals’ offense has played since Taylor took over. An anemic first half performance was met with eventual disaster in the form of Joe Burrow’s three picks. The entire group appeared completely ill-prepared and generally surprised by how stout the Bears’ defense was. Taylor’s questionable play-calling reared its ugly head in this one.
Joe Burrow: Still without a road win, Burrow struggled to get anything going before tossing two of his worst interceptions of his young career. His attempt at redemption for his three turnovers was a long touchdown to Ja’Marr Chase and a quick score to Tee Higgins, but it proved to be too little, too late. Pressure was in face for a good portion of the game, but Burrow cannot allow himself to compound on his mistakes like he did today.
Jonah Williams and Quinton Spain: Burrow did get hit a little too often vs. Chicago’s talented pass rush, and Williams and Spain account for most of the line’s blunders when they were responsible for the pressures. Williams was tricked by a Robert Quinn-Khalil Mack stunt that sacked Burrow out of field goal range on first drive. He also had a false start in second quarter. Spain allowed a sack that ended first half.
Joe Mixon: Cincinnati’s lead back had an unimpressive day running the ball, but it was his blunder in pass protection that helped the Bears hold on for the win. Mixon’s blocking whiff allowed the Bears to intercept Burrow for the third and final time of the day. Mixon also finished with just 69 yards on 20 carries.
Eli Apple: Trae Waynes possesses the most important hamstring for all Bengals fans as there’s a collective resentment growing against Apple. The veteran cornerback was flagged for an egregious pass interference on third-and-long that prolonged opening drive. He also allowed a third down reception allowed during Bears two-minute drill before halftime, and he got beat by Darnell Mooney on what should’ve been a big play had Mooney not dropped the pass.
Tee Higgins: There were multiple game-changing plays in this one, Higgins’ third-quarter fumble might’ve been the biggest. After his fourth reception of the game, Bears safety Eddie Jackson knocked the pigskin out of Higgins’ hands near midfield. He did come back in the game after appearing to suffer an injury and score the game’s last touchdown.