It was time for the Cincinnati Bengals to shift into high gear, and that’s exactly what they did in San Francisco.
They needed a make a major statement, and they delivered just that and more. In the last couple of games, they played well and were knocking on the door of the above .500 club.
Sunday, they kicked the door down, and everybody noticed.
There are a lot of positives to take away and few negatives, exactly the way we like it.
Zac Taylor: "That was our first real complete game. That's how we're meant to play."— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) October 29, 2023
This couldn’t be a more realistic description of Sunday’s game. Everybody at every position stepped up big for this win. This was by far their best team win.
Let’s start off with a guy who hasn’t had the biggest or best start of the season, who exploded Sunday:
Joe Mixon Shines
Entering today, teams were averaging 3.9 yards per carry against the 49ers. Joe Mixon right now is averaging 7.9 yards per carry.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) October 29, 2023
Throughout the first six games, Mixon would have a few big runs here and there, but Sunday was a different story. He was hitting holes hard, making people miss, and making good cuts.
Sunday was his personal statement game, and to top it off with a game-sealing TD makes it even better. If the Bengals get this kind of Mixon, they’ll be hard for any defense to stop, no matter where the game is played.
The best statement performance was the Bengals’ team leader and captain, Joey B. WHAT A GAME!
"Big win for us, but just one. A lot of football left to be played so we gotta build on it and keep getting better." — Joe Burrow pic.twitter.com/4F0topsA1q— Cincinnati (@CincyProblems) October 29, 2023
He didn’t just show up and win, he showed everyone that he’s back and he’s back for good, and his stats proved every bit of it.
Even better, he didn’t just prove it in the air. He showed he is feeling as close to 100% as you can get. Between moving in and out of the pocket or to QB draws, he feels as comfortable as ever.
IF you watch anything tonight, WATCH these three BURROW runs to keep drives alive and him walking off the field with his #Bengals above five hundred for the 1st time this season #WhoDey pic.twitter.com/MPeifpD5SI— Mark Slaughter (@MarkVSlaughter) October 30, 2023
There was one play in specific, though, that caught the eyes of everyone that Burrow. Is. Back. The fact that he was able to avoid the pressure but maintain concentration and awareness is simply ridiculous but so normal for Burrow.
There was a whole bunch going on here pic.twitter.com/AXObdM8GMJ— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) October 31, 2023
The best part about Burrow’s performance Sunday, which everyone needs to realize is a very real thing, is this is normal, and he expects to play. He expects perfection every game, and that’s the mindset of a winner.
Ja’Marr Chase “Mr. 7/11”
My next guy is Burrow’s partner in crime, and it seems like it’s going to be this way for a long time, Ja’Marr Chase.
Chase continues to show that he’s not only one of the best receivers in the league, but he’s one of the best athletes in the league. He and Burrow will go down as one of the best and dangerous quarterback-wide receiver duos in the league’s history.
This was his third 100-yard receiving game of the year.
JA'MARR CHASE BALLED IN THE BAY 1️⃣— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 29, 2023
1OO REC YARDS
25.2 PPR POINTS pic.twitter.com/l6dHK5jjii
One of the best aspects of this team, and with the Bengals’ quarterback, is they can and will spread the ball around. Higgins and Tyler Boyd combined for over 100 yards, with Boyd getting his second TD of the season.
Irv Smith Jr and Trenton Irwin tallied up over 50 yards together, and Iosivas also secured his second touchdown this season.
O-line Controls 49ers’ Vaunted Front
My final offensive standout of the day is the offensive line. They showed up when it mattered. There has been a lot of discussion and murmur going around about how they haven’t played as well as they should be or they aren’t worth what the Bengals are paying them.
What about now? They gave Burrow plenty of time, and this is the result. If they can continue to be dominant like they were Sunday, this offense won’t be stopped. This offense has a surplus of untapped potential.
“They were awesome” Joe Burrow on his offensive line pic.twitter.com/1BBMT5gp1O— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) October 30, 2023
Defensively, where do I begin?
Let’s get this out of the way first. One of the biggest defensive question marks coming into this game was stopping the run. Yes, they allowed McCaffrey to secure two touchdowns, obviously not what they wanted, but they held the NFL’s leading rusher to a mere 54 yards. I’ll take that any day of the week.
There is still some room to improve, and there always will be. They gave up over 350 yards in the air, but whenever this defense needs a big stop or to create a turnover, they make it happen.
Germaine Pratt Comes Up Clutch
Germaine Pratt delivered one of the biggest plays of the game late in the third quarter. Burrow even told the media in his postgame conference that it was one of the best defensive plays he’s ever seen.
As Does Logan Wilson
The very next 49ers drive, Logan Wilson jumped the play and snagged his third INT of the year, continuing to show why the Bengals decided to keep him for another four years. He leads the team in tackles and interceptions.
Hendrickson/Hubbard Secure The Edge
To put the cherry on top, you have the Bengals' two-headed defensive monster, Hendrickson and Hubbard, each finding themselves with another sack. Hendrickson might just be the team's best free-agency signing in history. He is on track to have a career-high in sacks.
This Bengals team went into the Bay Area, faced up against one of the best teams in the league, looked them in the eye, and knocked them out. Anything San Fran did or tried to do, the Bengals had an answer and one-upped them.
With everybody healthy, this is the Bengals team we all know and love. As long as they can stay healthy, this is the team that we will see week in and week out, and I’m not upset about that. Whether this team continues to fly under the radar and be noticed or unnoticed, they will continue to show up and ball out.
Whether you believe it or not, this team is a contender.