You can call the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals whatever you like, but don’t call them boring.
For the second time this month, the Bengals won at the buzzer with a field goal as they improve to 3-1 with a 24-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Winning on Thursday night is never easy, no matter the opponent, but the Bengals nearly killed their chances with an awful first half. It was their playmakers on offense and franchise quarterback that got them out of their self-made mess.
Here are our winners and losers from a wild Thursday night.
C.J. Uzomah: Welcome back to the offense, Uzo. After being an afterthought in the offense for the first three weeks, Uzomah caught his ninth and 10th career touchdowns along with an additional three receptions for a total of 95 yards. When the Bengals needed him the most, Uzomah took a screen pass 25 yards to get inside field goal range for the win. Just an incredible night for one of Cincinnati’s most experienced skill players.
Tyler Boyd: The captain slot receiver is playing like it’s 2018 for him again. Riding a high off of a gutsy performance in Pittsburgh, Boyd dominated the slot against Jacksonville. He finished with nine receptions for 118 yards. He probably created another 118 yards in separation as the Jags had no answer for him.
Ja’Marr Chase: Though he didn’t find the end zone this game, Chase continued to flash his verticality. He hauled in another deep ball from Burrow and was used more frequently in the quick passing game this week. He tacked on six receptions and 77 yards to his impressive four-week start.
Joe Burrow: Yeah, we’re thinking he’s back. Burrow had another incredibly efficient game, and his first without turnovers since Week 1. 348 yards and two touchdowns on 25-32 passing will get the job done most weeks. He increases his career lead on Trevor Lawrence to 2-0, but there should be plenty of battles to come between these two gunslingers.
Logan Wilson and Trey Hendrickson: It was a tough night for a clearly tired defense on a short week, but Wilson and Hendrickson continued to show out. Wilson had a sack and 10 total tackles while Hendrickson would’ve had a QB takedown had it not gotten canceled out by a penalty. Nevertheless, Hendrickson provided pressure throughout the game.
Evan McPherson: The first miss had to come at some point, but better to miss a first quarter field goal than the walk-off game-winner. McPherson has two game-winning field goals in just four career games after never being in this situation with the Florida Gators. Incredible resilience by the rookie.
Zac Taylor: Don’t get it twisted, Taylor has now won five of his last seven games and coached a great second half, but that first half was unforgivable from a game-management perspective. His passive offensive play-calling led to short drives and the Jaguars to tire out an already exhausted defense. He spotted them at least one of those two first-half scores. They can’t expect to do this against the Green Bay Packers in 10 days and get away with it.
Vonn Bell: Without Jessie Bates next to him, Bell was a bit exposed out there. Cincinnati was about to force a field goal inside their own 20-yard line in the third quarter when Bell got flagged for defensive holding. The next play, Bell got ran over by running back James Robinson, who ended up in the end zone for the Jaguars’ third score of the game. Not a memorable night for Bell.
Darius Phillips: Eli Apple got the start for Chidobe Awuzie, but when Phillips entered the game, he continued to underwhelm. He had an ugly missed tackle on third down near end of third quarter. In addition to his defensive struggles, he’s just not effective at all as a return-man this season. His two punt returns netted a total of nine yards, and he didn’t do much damage returning kickoffs either.