The Cincinnati Bengals almost let the New England Patriots do to them what they did to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.
Cincinnati took a 22-0 lead into the half and was watching the Patriots surge into their territory following a fumble. While only possessing a 22-18 lead at the time, the Bengals did their best to keep the Pats out of the end zone and thankfully caused a game-ending fumble.
Eventually, Cincinnati was able to pull this one out and extend their now-7-game win streak. Let’s dive into who won and who lost following this cold battle.
Trenton Irwin: One could argue Irwin was the reason the Bengals won this game. He was an absolute stud and made two terrific touchdown receptions. Irwin only had 4 targets, but he made the most of those, turning them into 3 receptions, 45 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Irwin had just one game of 45 yards prior, a 23-10 Week 14 win over Cleveland. The 27-year-old continues to be an impactful part of this offense.
Tee Higgins: Tee Higgins led both teams in receptions and receiving yards — totaling 8 and 128 respectively. He had a 39-yard reception as well as a touchdown. Higgins did all that on just 9 targets, only not reeling in one ball thrown his way. Most of his production came in the first half and even more so on the first drive. Higgins had the first touchdown of the game as well. This will go down as his second-most yards in a game this season.
Cam Sample: With Sam Hubbard out, the Bengals needed to replace his production on the defensive line. Cam Sample was able to provide some help alongside Trey Hendrickson. Sample ended with 6 tackles (3 solo) and a sack. He had a key tackle for loss as well as playing a factor in stuffing the Patriots' run game late in the fourth. He only had 16 tackles (12 solo) and a sack coming into this game, so the second-year defensive end certainly made his presence felt.
Tyler Boyd: The Bengals run a good chunk of their offense in 3-receiver sets, and it has been Irwin making waves when typically it would be Boyd. In the 7 games played in November and December, Boyd has topped 50 yards just once. He entered the game with 690 yards and just 49.3 yards per game. That is his lowest average since 2017. Boyd needs to get more involved, and with 21 yards and 3 receptions, he wasn’t on Saturday. While that could change, Irwin may soon replace him as the star slot receiver for Cincinnati.
Evan McPherson: While the normally surefire McPherson did hit his lone field goal of the game and made one PAT, he missed 2 extra points. One of those the second-year kicker from Florida was bailed out by a flag being thrown. That resulted in the team going for a two-point conversion and missing the attempt. It was a disappointing day for McPherson as the team could’ve used the points he left on the table. McPherson was 36-for-39 on PATs coming into the season.