The Cincinnati Bengals were back in action Sunday against the Carolina Panthers and got the bad taste out of their mouths after the Halloween letdown as the offense exploded even without star receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers of today’s contest.
Joe Mixon: An absolute monster game for Mixon, and one that frankly, he and the team needed. It was almost as if Mixon read all of our Chris Evans tweets before he went to sleep Saturday night. Zac Taylor put the ball in his hands early, and Mixon made the most of it. With 4:27 left in the second quarter, Mixon had already logged his highest rushing yardage total of the season, but he wasn’t done there. Mixon ran downhill all day and hit holes with an explosiveness he has seemed to lack up until today. Mixon finished with 153 yards rushing, 58 yards receiving, and 5 total touchdowns. If the Mixon of old is starting to return to form, the balance and consistency this offense needs should be there on a weekly basis.
Joe Burrow: This was more of a win for breaking a narrative. After the disaster in Cleveland, social media went wild, claiming Burrow just couldn’t be good without Ja’Marr Chase. While Burrow’s stats won’t “wow” you today, he played a clean, efficient game and repeatedly made great throws to extend drives and move the offense down the field. Finishing with 206 yards passing, one touchdown, no interceptions and a rushing touchdown, Burrow showed that he’s not totally lost without Chase on the field with him. Burrow got an early start to the bye week, exiting the game near the end of the third quarter.
Jalen Davis: Davis got the start at slot cornerback for the injured Mike Hilton. While Davis didn’t jump off the screen or stuff a box score, the fact that the only time we heard his name was when he recovered a Carolina fumble was positive. Entering the game with zero snaps played this season, Davis flying under the radar was just fine.
Lou Anarumo: With injuries all over the defense, Anarumo’s defense came into Sunday fully prepared. The mobility of PJ Walker and his ability to extend plays was essentially a non-factor. Walker had three completions for nine yards with two interceptions before being benched at halftime. After the half, old foe Baker Mayfield took snaps for Carolina. Aided by a big return on the opening kickoff, Mayfield threw a touchdown pass on his opening drive, but there wasn’t much more for them from there, save for some garbage time scores near the end. Marred by injury, Anarumo had a game plan that Carolina had no answer for.
Zac Taylor: Taylor is the primary target of fans after performances like Week 8. His play-calling comes under fire and fans take aim at the head coach. After only giving Mixon 8 carries against Cleveland’s low-ranked run defense, Taylor made it a point to get things going on the ground Sunday. As a result, we saw a career day for Mixon, a balanced offense and play-action working at will. If he takes heat for bad offensive performances, he deserves praise when the unit clicks on all cylinders.
Chris Evans: Calls for touches were at an all-time high after the Week 8 loss, but the explosion from Mixon, coupled with Evans leaving the game with a knee injury in the first half has certainly delayed any potential increased offensive role for Evans.
Dax Hill: Many thought the injuries in the defensive backfield would lead to an increased role for the first-rounder, but that didn’t materialize Sunday. Hill got time on the field, but a shoulder injury cut his day short. Hill certainly can’t help the fact he was injured, but what could’ve been a big opportunity for him Sunday never came to fruition.