DJ Reader wrote this piece himself. He left me no choice.
A lot of things happened in the 99th Battle of Ohio. Ja’Marr Chase got some sweet revenge against Denzel Ward. Trenton Irwin and Trent Taylor played full games for Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Trey Hendrickson played a full quarter with a bad wrist. The Cincinnati Bengals finally beat the stinkin’ Cleveland Browns with Joe Burrow at the helm.
But I agree with Jake Liscow of Locked On Bengals: If no one else wants to highlight Reader’s play, then by God it’s up to us.
When it comes to the trenches, nothing came even close. This was the first time the Bengals played Deshaun Watson in nearly two years, and while they pressured him often, he was sacked just twice. His regained ability to evade rushers and keep plays alive was solely responsible for conversations regarding his “return” to form (he’s still got ways to go).
Cincinnati’s offensive line had one of its worst outings in a while against Myles Garrett and Cleveland. Going forward, any and all discussions on how to limit Garrett start and end with having one of the very best left tackles in football, because anything less just isn’t enough to nullify him for the most of the game.
Garrett has made such a habit of single-handily ruining afternoons for the Bengals, so when the Browns got a taste of their own medicine, it becomes the story.
Reader and the Bengals’ defensive line shut down Nick Chubb. The Browns’ run game became the offensive equivalent to Garrett against the Bengals over the past two years. He ran for 420 yards and six touchdowns on just 68 carries in the previous four games he played in against the Bengals.
He was limited to 34 yards on 14 carries on Sunday, mainly because of Reader.
It’s always impressive when a pass-rusher takes over a game by himself, but it’s not particularly uncommon. When an entire run game is basically snuffed out because of a nose tackle, that’s like a shortstop making putouts from *every* square inch of the infield.
Some would say Reader is just doing his job. It’s not sexy, there are no highlights that get onto SportsCenter, and at the end of the day, it’s the pass-rushers who make a bigger impact on the game.
But like the Bengals have put their identity into the hands of Burrow, the Browns have done the same for Chubb. And one extremely talented and large man snatched it from them and helped eradicate their playoff chances in the process.
As if what Reader did on the field wasn’t enough, the man known as Grave Digger continued to bury the Browns’ Pro Bowl running back below the turf inside Paycor Stadium after the game.
“It feels like I’m wrestling with my son,” Reader said comparing playing against Chubb to playing with his three-year old child, Rocky. “I know he’s going to try me every time. I have to throw him to the ground every time. I know when it’s coming. When it finally comes, I get excited because I get the opportunity to show what I’m about.”
It’s all respect, of course, and it’s about time the rest of the NFL world pays its respect to Reader. I mean, can you believe there are bozos with takes like these?
if the pro bowl is for the top 6 players at each position in a given year, then burrow, hendrickson, pratt, bailey, and adomitis are the most deserving this year. there are just too many deserving WRs and DTs to get chase and reader in bc of time missed imo— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) December 7, 2022