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Bengals’ offense runs free in 35-17 win over Falcons

The Bengals‘ most complete game of the season.

Everybody ate in the Cincinnati Bengals’ first home game in nearly a month. The Bengals enjoyed offensive euphoria in a 35-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Joe Burrow had an incredible game, throwing for 481 yards, the second-most in his career, and three touchdowns on 34-for-42 passing. His trio of star receivers—Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd—combined for 21 receptions and 378 yards against a depleted Falcons’ secondary that suffered even more injuries as the game progressed.

Hayden Hurst turned in a solid outing against his former team with 48 yards on six receptions as well.

Cincinnati came out of the gates out for blood. Burrow threw for 228 yards on 14-16 passing and two touchdowns in the first three drives to put the Bengals up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. The first of those scores was a 60-yard bomb to Tyler Boyd to kick off the explosive afternoon.

Boyd had four receptions for 105 yards and a score in the first quarter alone, becoming the first Bengals receiver to cross the century mark in the first period since Carl Pickens did so in 1996.

The Bengals’ following two drives weren’t as quick, but they did end in trips to the end zone. A Joe Mixon 1-yard run at the goal-line and a 32-yard 9-ball to Ja’Marr Chase put the Bengals up three scores in just over 15 minutes. Mixon and the run game took more of a backseat as he ran for 58 yards on 17 carries to go with his one score.

Down 21 points after just one quarter of play would normally make you change things up, but the Falcons stuck to the ground game to respond. Atlanta engineered a 16-play, 75-yard drive featuring 13 runs to get their first points of the game. Tyler Allgeier had nine runs of his own, including the one-yard score that cut the lead to 21-7.

Atlanta’s defense looked to be settling in on the ensuing drive, but a couple second-and-long conversions from Burrow and Co. helped set up No. 9’s third touchdown of the afternoon. Burrow found Chase on a back-shoulder route, and the second-year receiver went untouched for 26 yards on his way to pay dirt.

So the Bengals would go into the locker room up three scores, right? Wrong.

Mariota and the Falcons responded as quick as possible, dialing up a deep ball to Damiere Byrd, who roasted Eli Apple to a crisp on his way to making it a 28-14 game. It was the longest play the Bengals’ defense has given up in nearly three years. The defense’s blunder was compounded when the offense couldn’t get into field goal range with less than a minute remaining, and a subpar punt from Kevin Huber led to a 57-yard punt return for Avery Williams. The return setup a 43-yard field goal for Younghoe Koo to make it a 28-17 ball game at the half.

The second quarter’s awful conclusion couldn’t take away the milestone the Bengals achieved. Cincinnati’s offense scored on its first four possessions for the first time under Zac Taylor. The last time it happened was in 2018 against... the Atlanta Falcons. Burrow was already up to 345 yards passing with just four incompletions.

Atlanta’s opportunity to make it a one-score game fell short when Cincinnati’s second-half defense emerged just in time. The Bengals held the Falcons to two three-and-outs, and a seven-play, 62-yard touchdown drive for Burrow and the offense followed the second stop. Despite leaving points on the board with a failed fourth-and-one attempt on their first drive, the Bengals went back up three scores, 35-17.

Lou Anarumo’s unit wouldn’t let up. Sacks from Sam Hubbard and Joseph Ossai ended the Falcons’ next two drives. Ossai’s sack was the first of his career, and both occurred after Trey Hendrickson left the game with a neck injury.

The Bengals ran out the clock with their final possession thanks to an offsides penalty in the final seconds. Now 4-3 on the year, they’ll travel north next week to take on the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football.

Box Score

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