One of the most anticipated road games on the Cincinnati Bengals’ schedule ended in a thrilling victory for the orange and black. The Bengals took down the New Orleans Saints 30-26 to get back to .500 on the season.
Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase returned to the Superdome on a mission. Burrow notched his sixth-career 300-yard, three touchdown performance. 132 of those yards, and two of those touchdowns ended up in the arms of Chase.
The Bengals needed every play from Burrow and Chase as their usual suffocating defense was off their game against the Saints’ multi-dimensional rushing offense. New Orleans finished with 228 rushing yards, including 99 from Alvin Kamara. The Saints also converted 50% of their third downs through the air, keeping several drives alive and wearing down Cincinnati’s front four.
There were no fireworks to begin the game. Both teams started out with three-and-outs, but a Trent Taylor fumble on his first punt return set up the Saints for their first points of the game. Andy Dalton connected with Tre’Quan Smith with a precision strike to take an early 7-0 lead.
New Orleans stuck to the playbook in defending the Bengals’ offense, forcing them to move the chains methodically on long drives. Cincinnati succeeded on their third drive of the first quarter with a healthy dose of RPOs and various quick concepts. It culminated with Burrow finding Joe Mixon out of empty to tie it up 7-7 just before the end of the first period.
The Saints, playing without three of their top receivers, would find a way to answer on offense. A diversified run game on the ensuing drive ended with Rashid Shaheed taking a jet sweep reverse for 44 yards and the score to put the Saints back up a touchdown, 14-7. Cincinnati’s defense was forced back on the field shortly after a three-and-out, but were able to keep the Saints out of the end zone despite allowing more explosive runs, including a 31-yard gain from Taysom Hill. A Saints field goal brought the game to 17-7.
Burrow would soon prove Hill wasn’t the only quarterback in the game who could scoot. The former Bayou Bengal capped off another long drive with a 19-yard touchdown run against a man-free blitz to make it a 17-14 ball game.
JOE BURROW IN LOUISIANA IS DIFFERENT pic.twitter.com/tj9w0bNw4J— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) October 16, 2022
Dalton and the Saints would go on their own lengthy drive, converting three third-downs in the process, and drill a short field goal to extend their lead to six at the half. New Orleans averaged 7.4 yards per play in the first half thanks largely to their 164 rushing yards.
Cincinnati’s defense continued to struggle in the third quarter. New Orleans was penalized three consecutive times on third down, and the Bengals still couldn’t get off the field. A roughing the passer call on Trey Hendrickson helped the Saints get into field goal range and increase their lead to 23-14.
An answer was needed quick, and Burrow and Co. provided it. Cincinnati produced not one, but two explosive plays on the ensuing drive, one being a quick out to Ja’Marr Chase for 26 yards. The Harvey, LA native also got the call to finish the drive and hauled in a 15-yard pass from Burrow in the same end zone the duo connected in during the 2020 National Championship game. Just like that, it was 23-21.
All Lou Anarumo’s defense could lean on was keeping the Saints out of the end zone at all costs. Dalton, Hill, and Kamara continued to move the chains, but Cincinnati’s defense bent as much as possible without breaking. The Saints would settle with another field goal and a 26-21 lead.
Down five with less than 10 minutes remaining, Burrow pulled out a vintage moment, evading a third-down blitz and finding a wide open Tyler Boyd to keep the drive alive.
What a ridiculous play by Joe Burrow!pic.twitter.com/bsSWKYykyD— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 16, 2022
The pressure would eventually reach Burrow in the pocket as the Saints sacked No. 9 twice later in the drive, forcing the Bengals to settle for three. Evan McPherson’s 52-yarder made it 26-24.
With less than four minutes remaining, the Bengals finally stepped up defensively and forced a three-and-out from the Saints. Hendrickson nearly strip-sacked Dalton as the former Cincinnati quarterback had to throw it away.
A costly punt from the Saints gave the Bengals possession at their own 40-yard line, and one play is all Burrow and Chase needed to give Cincinnati their first lead of the day. Chase broke two tackles off a hitch route on his way to his second touchdown of the day in front of his hometown.
This duo cannot be stopped. pic.twitter.com/S7roMDJ30H— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) October 16, 2022
Dalton’s final drive hit a screeching halt when B.J. Hill broke through the line for the Bengals’ first and only sack of the day. Hill’s clutch moment forced a fourth-and-17 in which Dalton and the Saints couldn’t convert.
The Bengals escape the Superdome with a 3-3 record and a successful homecoming for Burrow and all of his teammates with connections to New Orleans.