The Cincinnati Bengals had a big one today against the Cleveland Browns. For the first time since 2019 and the first time in Joe Burrow’s career, they came away with a win. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from today’s contest.
D.J. Reader: The Bengals sorely missed Reader in the first matchup and today, he showed exactly why. Reader won’t always stuff the stat sheet, but he will stuff up the middle of the line of scrimmage. Reader finished the game with five tackles, a quarterback hit and a big pass bat down with 2:59 left in the second quarter that held Cleveland to three points. Having Reader back and playing at the level he’s capable of has been a huge boost for the defense. Against the run-heavy Cleveland offense, Reader was a big part of stopping a repeat of the last matchup.
Logan Wilson: Wilson doesn’t get enough credit for the type of linebacker he is from the national media. Wilson was again phenomenal today, with 11 tackles (9 solo) in the first half alone. In the second half, Wilson kept it going, but not at such a high clip. Finishing the game with 17 tackles (14 solo), Wilson was a great second line of defense behind a defensive line that played great.
Ja’Marr Chase: Chase was garnering essentially all of the attention from the Cleveland defense and still managed to find the end zone. Finishing with 10 catches for 119 yards and the touchdown, Chase made timely catches to extend drives all game. With the Bengals; other top two receivers out, Chase could’ve been bottled up by Cleveland’s talented secondary. The Cleveland defense was most concerned about Chase, and he still made them pay.
Trenton Irwin: With Tee Higgins essentially out and Tyler Boyd out after the first drive, Irwin was a savior once again. With 7:26 left in the third quarter, Irwin hauled in a 45 yard touchdown reception on a beautifully timed flea flicker call from Zac Taylor. Irwin finished with two catches) for 58 yards and the touchdown. While the stat sheet isn’t overflowing, Irwin brought the explosive play the Bengals needed as the defense focused on Chase.
Lou Anarumo: After getting historically run over by Cleveland, Anarumo clearly had his defense prepared today. Holding Cleveland’s start running back Nick Chubb to only 34 rushing yards and no touchdowns was a massive win for “The Mad Scientist.” As a team, Cleveland was only able to gain 71 yards on the ground. The secondary was also well-prepared taking on Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland receivers. Lou keeps impressing week in and week out. The phenomenal play of rookie Cam Taylor-Britt is a testament to Loud having his guys ready.
La’el Collins: Not the best day for Collins. Granted, Cleveland’s edge rushers are very good, but Collins allowed too much pressure, too many penalties and too many batted balls. The penalties were seemingly in moments where a drive could have been extended, or Cleveland also committed penalties the Bengals could have taken advantage of if not for offsetting calls.
Samaje Perine: Many wondered how the running back reps would be split with the return of Mixon, as Taylor said Mixon was the starter. Perine did a great job filling in, but didn’t have Perine still got some chances, but two drops early in the game really seemed to kill any chance he had to get something going. Perine finished with four carries for 22 yards, one catch for two yards and the two drops. Perine did find the end zone on an impressive run, but on the bulk of his snaps, he didn’t do anything to suggest the bulk of the carries shouldn’t go back to Mixon going forward. With what many hoped would be a split backfield going forward, Mixon seemed to confirm himself as the lead back going forward.