The Cincinnati Bengals offense did basically whatever it wanted Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Putting up 42 points, you’d expect to see big numbers from one of their many talented receivers, but today, the offense ran through Joe Mixon.
Mixon racked up 153 rushing yards, 58 receiving yards and set a new franchise record for touchdowns scored in a game with 5. Four of those came on the ground as Mixon had his way with the Carolina defense from start to finish.
When speaking with the media after the game, head coach Zac Taylor couldn’t say enough good things about the sixth-year back:
“Great. He ran hard, a lot of yards after contact, finished off a lot of runs there, had some big ones for us. So, really happy that he had the day that he had. Franchise-record five touchdowns; had that great catch there with three seconds left in the half, I think it was. So, really tremendous job by him. Great job up front by those linemen, and great job on the perimeter by the receivers, the tight ends, and the run game. Awesome job — that’s exactly what we needed. Based on the plan that we had and the run game, everybody stepped up to the plate and delivered, and allowed Joe (Mixon) to have the day that he had,” Taylor said.
As Taylor has faced backlash from fans and media over the lack of a ground game so far this season, but according to Taylor, none of those complaints have come from Mixon:
“He’s a captain for us. There’s been some games we’ve had a style of play where we’ve relied on the passing game to be explosive and attack defenses and complement it with the run game, and as we’ve stated many times efficiency in our run calls. There’s plenty of times there’s been great opportunities for run looks where we’ve pulled the ball out of his hands and thrown it for great gains. So he just hasn’t benefitted, maybe, from those carries that have been turned into productive throws. We’re not going to apologize for that. Obviously, great players want the ball. He’s a captain and he’s handled this thing really well. All of these guys know that sometimes their number isn’t called as much, but then there’s a game that’s going to smack them right in the face where it’s games like this. T.B. (Tyler Boyd) a couple weeks ago. Again, that’s why we care so much about the character in this locker room of guys that understand the big picture of trying to win and be a great team.”
Mixon may not be vocal when the ball isn’t handed to him, but he certainly enjoys games like Sunday’s more than the eight-carry night in Week 8.
Taylor wasn’t the only one thrilled with Mixon’s historic day. Quarterback Joe Burrow was not only happy for Mixon, but the performance of the entire team:
“It was the first complete game of the year. It’s how we expect to play every week. Run game, defense, pass game, it was all clicking today. We have to find that sauce and keep it in our back pocket for the rest of the year,” Burrow said”
While Burrow was certainly excited for his teammate, he didn’t seem too shocked about Mixon’s performance:
“That’s what we expect from Joe. He’s been the same guy every single week, working hard. He hasn’t had the production I know he wants, but today was a big breakout for him. Hopefully we can carry that momentum out of the bye week.”
Mixon also met with the media and while he was certainly upbeat, he wasn’t riding too high. Mixon sounded like a guy who was glad to get a win, but wasn’t too concerned with his own stats:
“It feels great to be able to have a special game. I knew at some point the dam would break, and it did today. I’m very excited for my teammates. The way these guys come to work and the trust we have, it’s a blessing,” said Mixon.
While Mixon certainly wants to be a focal point of the offense, he went on to say that he hasn’t tried to influence play-calling to get more touches. When asked if he had talked to Taylor about it, Mixon said he hadn’t:
“No. At the end of the day, we’re all professionals, we know what we have to do. Everybody has a job and we’re all on the same page. Most important is coming out with a victory and we did that today. We finally got that nasty taste from Monday night out of our mouth. I won’t get too high or too low. The fact we stayed true to the game, we’ll always do that. I’m living in the moment, and will keep on doing whatever I can. I’m excited to go into the bye week with a win.”
Mixon continued, talking about the frustrations leading up to Sunday and how he was able to stay focused and wait for things to finally go his way:
“Yeah, I mean (it was) definitely frustrating, but at the end of the day, I’ve never had to do (any) soul searching. I know what type of player — I know what type of back — that I am. It’s really about staying true to who you are, no matter the situation and what’s going on and the trials and tribulations that you go through. I used to go home and, you know, get that extra in. I’m still going to keep doing that, and I’m going forever do that until I’m done playing this game. But at the end of the day, I felt like staying true to the game and true to yourself — I felt like that definitely played a big dividend today. Like I said, I’m living in the moment, and I’m blessed to be here in this situation,” Mixon said.
A happy coach, a happy quarterback and a happy running back in the postgame presser always means your offense had a good day.
Here’s to the continued success of Mixon and the Bengal offense.
You can read the full press conference transcript here.