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Bengals thrash Panthers 42-21, enter bye week at 5-4

A much-needed blowout win for the home team.

The Cincinnati Bengals heard all the criticism over the past six days. They responded with a massive 42-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

Joe Mixon was the unquestioned star of the afternoon, and the offense came out the gate with a statement to make. Mixon became the fifth player in Bengals history to rush for 5,000 yards during the opening drive, which ended in Mixon’s first of FOUR rushing touchdowns on the day.

Mixon and the Bengals’ offensive line kept the good times rolling throughout the afternoon as he totaled 213 yards on 26 combined rushes and receptions, and his five total touchdowns are a new franchise record.

His 153 yards on the ground were the most in nearly a full year, and he crossed the century mark by the two-minute warning in the first half. He churned out 5 rushes of 10 yards or more and took several screen passes for big gains as well. Through the first five drives of the game, he was up to 131 total yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Bengals posted at least four touchdowns in their first five possessions for the second time in three weeks, both at home against NFC South opponents. Against the Atlanta Falcons, it was Joe Burrow and the passing game rediscovering their magic.

This week, it was Mixon’s turn to let loose.

Including Burrow’s goal-line sneak score, the Bengals recorded at least four rushing touchdowns in a game for the first time since 2015.

While the run game was being revived, Cincinnati’s defense was playing lights out without their two best cornerbacks.

The Bengals forced three-straight three-and-outs against PJ Walker and the Panthers, allowing 19 yards on their first 11 plays. That 11th play was Germaine Pratt’s first interception since the takeaway that won the Bengals their first playoff game back in January.

Walker didn’t have much success on his next possession as Jessie Bates III got in on the fun. Bates picked off Walker right before the end of the first half to give Mixon and the Bengals another possession in Panthers territory.

Because he was tired of running the ball in the end zone, Mixon tried catching one instead. Burrow tossed his lone touchdown strike of the day to Mixon on a broken play to give the Bengals a 35-0 lead at the half.

The Bengals had more points (35) after two quarters than the Panthers had total yards (32). It was their largest shutout lead at the half in 52 years!

Carolina needed a switch, and who else but Baker Mayfield comes in to provide some life. Mayfield and the offense took advantage of great field position provided by a 66-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter. The former Cleveland Browns signal caller went four-of-six for 34 yards and a touchdown to put the Panthers on the board.

But Mixon wasn’t done. He capped off a nine-play drive that took six precious minutes off the clock with his fifth touchdown of the day and fourth on the ground. Mixon would only run the ball three more times before he was pulled from the game, along with Joe Burrow, at the end of the third quarter. Burrow had an efficient 206 yards on 22 of 28 passing and the two scores (one passing) while Mixon owned the spotlight.

Mayfield played admirably off the bench, finishing with 155 yards and two touchdowns in what was essentially a half’s worth of garbage time. The notorious Bengal-killer simply had no shot of engineering a five-score comeback.

Now 5-4 on the season, the Bengals enter the bye week with their confidence restored after a rough week.

Box Score

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