As if the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t have enough doubters, the team’s own fans went back to a “woe is me” mentality when the team fell behind against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers early. And then AFC champs showed us all exactly how they got to the big game last year. The Bengals are a cohesive unit that believes in itself no matter the situation.
So what did we learn this time?
This defense really is next man up
The phrase is used a lot, but Lou Anarumo’s crew somehow overcame injuries not only in the secondary (which Tom Brady used to carve up Cincinnati) but also to his two most reliable pass rushers, Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard.
And then, the defense decided enough was enough, and they got after the future Hall of Fame QB, throwing everything at him and punching every ball they saw. The result was four straight turnovers in the second half (five if you count a turnover on downs to start the third quarter).
Officially, the Bengals only ended up with one sack, but they got after Brady in a multitude of ways, forcing him into two second half interceptions and giving up only 118 yards passing, much of which came after the game was out of hand.
Mitchell Wilcox can move
The Bengals’ backup tight end has done a fine job of filling in for Hayden Hurst, who was essentially filling in for C.J. Uzomah. While all of those guys are talented, the real lesson here is that Burrow knows how to create big plays with tight ends.
Against the Bucs, Wilcox had three catches for 34 yards, including a rub-it-in-the-GOAT’S-face touchdown at the end. Just look at the big guy turn on the jets!
TOUCHDOWN: Joe Burrow 12-yd TD pass to Mitchell Wilcox#Bengals 34 #Buccaneers 17 4th pic.twitter.com/irebSGo6HI— Sᴘᴏʀᴛs 24/7 (@Sports_24x7_) December 19, 2022
Burrow can still get in his own head
Another interception off a tipped pass seemingly threw Burrow and the offense out of rhythm early on. We’ve seen this before, against the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns last year and against the Pittsburgh Steelers this year.
This game seemed to be going down that route until the Bengals went into their hurry up offense at the end of the first half. That sense of urgency appeared to have gotten Burrow out of his own head. And then he looked like his old, brilliant self in the second half.
The Bengals quarterback threw four touchdowns to four difference receivers in the second half. He also looked great on the move, manipulating defenses on the fly and creating windows. In short, he was in the flow, the complete opposite of the first half.
Hopefully this kind of comeback in front of the most successful quarterback in NFL history will give Burrow even more confidence when faced with early-game adversity the next time.
For a detailed breakdown of what went right against the Bucs, watch our review below:
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