There were whispers after the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Saints on the road in Week 6 that the Bengals were back. It seemed fragile, though. They hadn’t put a full game together yet on offense, so anything louder than a whisper might make the whole thing fall apart. Feel free to yell now, because the Bengals are back!
They dropped 35 points on the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at home, giving up just 17 in a completely dominant showing by the offense, defense and special teams, when they were needed, which wasn’t often.
Here are some things that went right against the Falcons and a look ahead at their Week 8 matchup against the Browns on Monday Night Football.
Joe, the falconer
Quarterback Joe Burrow completed 34 of 42 passes for 481 yards, three touchdowns and ran the ball for 20 yards and added another rushing score. The offense, with Burrow at the helm, looked absolutely unstoppable through the air. Atlanta’s thinned-out secondary had no answers when it came to covering the Bengals’ “big three,” which is evident from the fact that Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins had 155 yards, 130 yards and 93 yards receiving respectively.
If the offense plays like this, there isn’t a team in the NFL they won’t beat.
Punter? We don’t need no stinking punter!
Kevin Huber only punted once on Sunday, early in the fourth quarter. The Bengals offense took the field eight times on Sunday. They scored five touchdowns, turned the ball over on downs on a fourth-and-short try, knelt down to kill the clock and end the game and punted once.
If you can only punt once without turning the ball over, you must be doing something right.
Second half domination continues
The Bengals defense didn’t allow a single touchdown in the second half. Again. If you’re counting, that’s seven games in a row. They haven’t allowed a team to score a touchdown after halftime in any game so far this season. On Sunday, they didn’t allow the Falcons to score a touchdown or a field goal.
The defense has been absolutely dominant this season, especially after halftime.
Big play Bengals
Last season, the big play was a huge part of the Bengals success. They could score at any time from any spot on the field. The same offense, with an upgraded offensive line, took the field this season and struggled to get anything going, especially long plays.
On Sunday, the Bengals had 10 plays of 20 or more yards by five different players. The offensive line is really coming together and playing well, giving Burrow enough time to find his talented receivers down field.
A look ahead....
The Bengals face the Browns in Cleveland on Monday Night Football on Halloween in Week 8. While they are now 4-3, they are 0-2 in the AFC North, and a win in Cleveland will go a long way towards winning the division for the second year in a row. The Bengals haven’t defeated the Browns since 2019, and Joe Burrow has never won against against Cleveland. Here are a few things they could see while you eat all your kid's Halloween candy.
- The Browns are in the middle of the pack when it comes to their pass defense, allowing 1,473 yards through the air. They have only allowed eight passing touchdowns, but they have also only had two interceptions, which is tied for second least in the league. They have good pass rushers on the defensive line in ends Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, but they haven’t had the production they’ve had in the past. That doesn’t mean the Bengals tackles don’t need to come prepared, because they absolutely do. The combination of Burrow and backup Brandon Allen were sacked a nine times in their two games against the Browns in the 2021 season, and hopefully the Bengals can lower that number in 2022.
- Again, the Browns are in the middle of the pack when it comes to passing the ball on offense, but they have racked up the second most yards on the ground so far this season. Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are likely the best duo in any backfield. The Bengals did a good job limiting the Falcons running backs to less than four yards a carry. If they can’t slow the Browns running game down, it could be a long day in Cleveland.
- With the Bengals offense firing on all cylinders, a likely game plan for the Browns will be to take their time on offense, run the ball often and keep Joe Burrow on the sideline as long as possible. The Bengals can counter that game plan by not only limiting the run, but jumping out to a lead, forcing the Browns to throw the ball to catch up. Either way, the Bengals need to have a similar performance in Week 8 as they did in Week 7. They may not have a lot of opportunities with the ball on offense, so when they do, they need to score touchdowns.
- The Bengals are 1-4 all time on Halloween. This is a new team, though.
To wrap things up, some random thoughts on the Bengals Week 7 victory over the Falcons
- Over the last two weeks, Burrow has completed 62 of 79 passes for 826 yards, eight total touchdowns, a ridiculous 78.5 percent completion percentage, 9.9 yards per attempt and zero turnovers. Those are MVP numbers.
- The lack of a running game is a little concerning. Joe Mixon only average 3.4 yards a carry. However, the passing game was working so well, there wasn’t need to run the ball very much. That may not be the case all the time, though.
- Center Ted Karras was invited to the meeting between coaches and quarterbacks before the game. They each picked a play they thought would be their first touchdown of the game. Karras picked the play that resulted in a 60-yard touchdown to Tyler Boyd. It’s the first time any players has picked the right play so far this season.
- The offensive line as a whole played their best game on Sunday. The lowest pass-blocking score belonged to rookie Cordell Volson, and it was a 62.2. The line needed time to gel together to start the season, and they’ve obviously done that.
- Bengals coaches decided to pull cornerback Eli Apple after he gave up a long touchdown in the second quarter and replace him with rookie corner Cam Taylor-Brit. Apple finished the game with 16 snaps and a PFF score of 29 while Taylor-Britt finished with 28 snaps and a PFF score of 41.2. Apple was targeted once, giving up a 75-yard touchdown. Taylor-Britt’s receiver was not targeted.
- It’ll be interested to see if the Bengals move on from Apple and start Taylor-Britt in Week 8 and beyond.
- Trey Hendrickson left the game late with a neck injury and was replaced by second-year edge rusher Joseph Ossai, who almost immediately brought down Marcus Mariota for his first career sack in the regular season. Good for him.
- Usually when a team gets behind early by three touchdowns, they have to abandon the run and start passing the ball to play catch-up. The Falcons didn’t do that. They continued to run the ball, and only attempted 13 passes. On those 13 attempts, the Bengals sacked the opposing quarterback three times. That’s a sack every four pass attempts. Not bad.
- Here’s a chart showing quarterback efficiency through the first seven weeks of the season.
- And here’s that same chart if you remove the terrible game Burrow played in Week 1:
- It’s clear that Burrow struggled in Week 1 due to his offseason Appendectomy. Burrow, without his appendix, threw four interceptions against the Steelers and the Bengals lost their season opener. Since then, Burrow has been great (13 touchdowns and one turnover). It’s obvious what this means....... Burrow’s appendix grew back and has allowed him to dominate again.