Close games have not been the Cincinnati Bengals’ calling card in the Zac Taylor era. Their three losses this year have all been from game-ending field goals.
But when you need a season-saving game on the road, you might as well put Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase back in the Superdome to cook up some magic.
The Bengals squeaked out a win over the New Orleans Saints to get back to .500 on the year and regain their footing in a truly wild NFL landscape. Let’s see if the snaps from Sunday tell us how the near future will unfold.
Thanks to their imposing run game, the Saints out-snapped the Bengals 72 to 57 on Sunday. New Orleans wasn’t always successful converting third downs (8/17) but a few key conversions extended their drives in the second half, giving them an edge in time of possession as well. Cincinnati had just 27 snaps to New Orleans’ 49 in the final 30 minutes.
Interior depth in trouble
D.J. Reader’s absence loomed large in this one. The Bengals’ run defense was exposed without their star nose tackle, and Reader’s replacement, Josh Tupou, left the game with a calf injury after playing just 19 snaps. Jay Tufele (23) made his Bengals debut in his place, as their only other option, Zach Carter (30), was having an awful day against the run. The third-round pick out of Florida is having trouble holding up against blocks inside. Cincinnati may need to look at external options in the case that Tupou misses future playing time.
Return of the Migos
After the game, Tee Higgins (49) said his injured ankle was at about 85%, which almost perfectly matches up with the percentage of snaps he played yesterday. Higgins ended up with six receptions for 47 yards on nine targets as he continues progressing towards a fully healthy ankle. The offense is at its full strength when he’s out there with Ja’Marr Chase (56) and Tyler Boyd (55) all the time.
What happens at linebacker?
If Logan Wilson (60) did re-injure his surgically repaired shoulder, the Bengals’ defense will have to adapt once more. Akeem Davis-Gaither (11) predictably came on for his fellow 2020 NFL Draftee. Will that be the case going forward? Or will Markus Bailey (2) get some run? Don’t forget about Joe Bachie as well, who should be more than ready to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Bengals’ snap counts vs. Saints
|Stanley Morgan Jr.||WR||2||4%|
|Jessie Bates III||S||72||100%|