Here are the Bengals’ biggest winners and losers from Week 5.
Tight end, Hayden Hurst: There can’t be too many things better in the NFL than scoring on your former team. Hurst played a huge role on offense after wide receiver Tee Higgins was unable to play the whole game. Hurst’s biggest moment was a nice snapshot of what has made him such a great fit in Cincinnati. He caught the ball roughly five yards away from the end zone. He fought after the catch for every single yard, and he ended up fully extending to land the ball square on the goal line.
Safety, Vonn Bell: Bell continued his reign as a ball hawk. He made a pivotal interception to help spark some much-needed momentum early in the game. Bell now has three interceptions in the last two games. That is more than the two career interceptions Bell had coming into the 2022 season.
Defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo: The Bengals defense came to play, and they did a great job from keeping this from being a blowout. They were able to slow down the Ravens offense after their initial two drives of moving the ball at will, but they really settled in afterwards. It wasn’t a perfect game, but Anarumor and the defense did their jobs to put Cincinnati in a winning position.
Head coach, Zac Taylor: The play calling has just been an obvious issue that can’t be ignored. The game started with the Bengals over correcting for their struggling offensive line not allowing Burrow to throw down the field. Things improved in the second quarter when they were able to tie up the game before halftime.
It popped back up in the third quarter when Cincinnati drove down the field to the one-yard line of Baltimore. They got cute a few many times trying a “Philly Special” where Tyler Boyd was supposed to throw to Joe Burrow. That play was easily sniffed out easily leading to a huge loss. They managed to get back to the one-yard line, but then they ran a shovel pass rather than taking the field goal. You can make a case for going for the touchdown, but the play call had no chance at all.
Defense containing Mark Andrews: Outside of containing Lamar Jackson, taking away Andrews is also very high on that list. The first touchdown of the game came via a coverage breakdown allowing Andrews to catch a ball wide open for a touchdown. Later in the game Andrew was the target of several huge third-down conversions. Anarumo did a ton of great things with his scheme this week, but that may have been the biggest hole in an otherwise great outing by the defense.
Quarterback, Joe Burrow: We can blame Taylor for a lot of issues, but at some point we have to see the Burrow we saw last season. He has looked almost afraid to take shots at times, and willing to take little dump offs. He clearly started the season off on the wrong foot just coming back from his appendix surgery and having a completely new offensive line that never played a live snap together. However, he has to be the reason the Bengals win. He can not just simply be the reason that they don’t lose. Him trusting guys like Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd to make those tough catches in traffic was a key difference in more than a few games last season. Not having that has been a very noticeable issue.
This isn’t really a shot at Burrow either. It is more just him not meeting his own standards.