Let’s look at the winners and losers from today’s contest.
Joe Burrow: Burrow said before the game that his calf feels as good as it has all season. That was apparent Sunday when we saw him moving in the pocket to give Ja’Marr Chase time to get open in the end zone and corral his first touchdown reception of the season. With the pass rush getting to Burrow too much, he showed the most ability to scramble and evade tacklers that we have seen from him all season.
Early in the second quarter, Burrow finally connected on a deep ball. Burrow threw a beauty to Chase for a 63-yard touchdown. Burrow finished with 36 completions for 317 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception on a route where Trenton Irwin fell on the route. Burrow finally looked like himself, and that is great for us all.
Ja’Marr Chase: After his postgame comments last week, Chase bounced back and showed that maybe he is always open. Chase was involved early and often, hauling in eight receptions in the first half before exploding in the second. Chase picked up where he left off to begin the half on the 63-yard touchdown from Burrow. He set the record for the most receptions in a game in franchise history, passing Carl Pickens. Chase finished the day with 15 receptions for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
Trenton Irwin: In the absences of Tee Higgins and Charlie Jones, Irwin proved to be up for the challenge. Irwin entered the game with only one catch through the first four games but notched five receptions in the first half alone. He also returned a punt 28 yards in the first half, setting the Bengal offense up with good field position. Irwin finished with eight receptions for 60 yards and added 68 return yards on the day and was a welcomed boost to the Bengal offense.
Cam Taylor-Britt: After spending the week in concussion protocol, Taylor-Britt was able to play, and the Bengals defense was better for it. After Joe Mixon was marked just short on a 4th-and-1 attempt, the Cardinal offense was pinned against their own end zone. Joshua Dobbs dropped back to pass and found it in the arms of Taylor-Britt. Taylor-Britt was able to make the short run back to pay dirt and give the Bengals the lead they took into halftime. He ended the day with the pick-six and two passes defended.
DJ Turner: The rookie out of Michigan was thrust into a starting role with Chidobe Awuzie unable to play, and Turner made the most of it. He had a couple of plays that showed he was a rookie, but he was solid overall. He was quick to attack short routes and make the tackle for a minimal gain and was able to make some solid plays in the run game. Turner nearly came away with an interception late in the third quarter on a throw to the end zone. Turner wasn’t perfect, but he filled in for Awuzie nicely. Turner finished with three tackles (two solo).
Frank Pollack: Is it time to start this discussion? The Bengals have spent heavily on their offensive line over the past two off-seasons, and frankly, it isn’t good enough. It did look improved Sunday, but Burrow was under far too much pressure. When do you stop looking at the players and start questioning schemes and techniques? While Burrow is moving better, the offensive line has to improve for this team to continue to move forward offensively.
Lou Anarumo: The run defense needs to be figured out if the Bengals are going to right the ship and make the playoffs. After giving up over 175 rushing yards in three of the first four games, the defense gave up 135 yards on the ground to Arizona, and a lot of it came after their lead back, James Conner, was injured. Anarumo was famous for his halftime adjustments the last two years, but he hasn’t been able to dial up much to stop opposing defenses from running the ball. With that said, his defense did force three turnovers and come away with three sacks.