Maybe Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor knew what he was talking about after all.
“I hope you all listened to me when I got up here at 0-2 and said, ‘Just be patient, this season is very young, we know what type of team we have, I know the faith that I have in these players and coaches,’” Taylor said after the Bengals’ 35-17 trouncing of the Atlanta Falcons Sunday.
If we didn’t listen then, we’re listening now, especially after Cincinnati strung together its second-straight impressive victory, and fourth in its last five games. The first two wins were on the back of the defense. These last two have been a concerted effort, with the offense finally starting to come alive.
“I’m feeling comfortable,” Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow said after the game. “We’re getting the timing down. We’re starting to find the rhythm as an offense and the defense is going to continue to do what the defense does, so I think we’re finding our stride.”
In the case of Sunday’s game, that was a bit of an understatement. Against the Falcons, Burrow became the first quarterback in the history of the NFL to have five games of 400 or more passing yards in the first three years of his career.
He threw for 481 yards Sunday on 34/42 passing (81%) with three touchdowns, including a 60-yard strike to Tyler Boyd in the first two minutes of the game. His quarterback rating? 138.2. 158.3 is perfect. Anything above 100 is considered elite.
“We saw a lot of spots on film that we could take advantage of, and we jumped out early on them,” Burrow said. “We spread them out and let our guys go make plays.”
Over the course of the last two games, Burrow has completed 62 of 79 passes (78.5%) for 781 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. The difference from then to now? Consistency, he said.
“Every single game, we’ve had spots where we were really, really good, and it’s just about sustaining it over a whole game, stringing together games where we’re lights out.”
Of course, it helps to have three of the best receivers in the business. Boyd finished with eight receptions for 155 yards and a score, while Ja’Marr Chase added eight catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Tee Higgins just missed becoming the Bengals’ third 100-yard receiver with 93 yards on five receptions.
“They celebrate each other’s success,” Burrow said, “and I think that’s what makes us so unique. We have three No. 1 receivers who don’t have any ego. They trust me to do my job and throw the ball where it’s supposed to go.”
When Burrow does that, the Bengals are going to be tough to beat, especially with a defense that has not yielded a second-half touchdown in seven straight games.
“When he gets in a rhythm, watch out,” Taylor said. “Because it’s tough to stop.”