The Cincinnati Bengals entered Week 10 as one of the NFL’s hottest teams, but it ended with a crushing 30-27 loss to the Houston Texans. Even though there were flashes, both on offense and defense, overall the Bengals were underwhelming for the vast majority of the game.
Here’s a look at this week’s winners and losers.
When someone said, “Who will step up and make big plays with Tee Higgins out and Ja’Marr Chase hobbled?” The smart money says Tyler Boyd or maybe one of the tight ends, but smart money doesn’t know Trenton Irwin. It’s always Irwin.
The Bengals’ opening drive was capped off by a 32-yard pass from Joe Burrow, perfectly dropped into Irwin’s arms, beating Cover 2 as he entered the end zone down the sideline. Irwin finished with two catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, proving once again to be one of Burrow’s most trusted targets.
The second-year defensive back is making a name as one of the best in the league. He intercepted his fourth pass of the season on Sunday against the Texans, in a crucial moment in the fourth quarter. It was almost a pick-six, but CTB was caught from behind just before he crossed into the end zone.
The Bengals were able to capitalize, scoring on a Joe Mixon touchdown just a few moments later.
Robbins was called on a lot, punting in five consecutive drives after the Bengals opened the game with a touchdown. Those five punts averaged 51.8 yards, and he dropped two of them in the opposing 20.
The Bengals selected him in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft because of his long hang time. That was on display Sunday.
Hurt back? No problem.
Chase finished the game with five receptions, 124 yards, and a touchdown. Not much worked for the Bengals offense throughout much of the game, but when nothing else worked, Burrow to Chase still did.
The Texans haven’t given up 100 yards to a receiver in 12 consecutive games coming into Week 10, but Chase ended their streak.
No Sam Hubbard, no problem, right?
I mean, they have Joseph Ossai and rookie first-round pick Myles Murphy, so it’s okay, right?
There was no pass rush. Outside of a handful of plays where CJ Stroud was actually pressured enough to make him drop his eyes, he sat comfortably until he found a receiver, sometimes on his third or fourth read. Stroud absolutely shredded the secondary.
The whole offense until late in the third quarter
The Bengals' offense has this habit of coming out of the game on fire, scoring a touchdown, which they did again today. And then, after that, the offense falls asleep. Now, in the last two weeks, the offense picked it back up, but not against the Texans.
They punted five consecutive times after that first drive and wouldn’t score again until late in the third quarter, at that point, it proved to be too little, too late.
The Bengals defense had some big plays, like CTB’s almost pick-six, but in general, they struggled against the pass and the run, which is another way of saying the defense was just bad on Sunday.
The Texans offense ran the ball down the Bengals throats. Devin Singletary had 150 rushing yards and a touchdown all by himself, breaking several bad tackles on the way. Stroud only had one touchdown pass and threw a bad interception, but he also had 356 yards in the air.
He finished with eight receptions for 117 yards, but this dropped touchdown killed the Bengals in the end.
NOOOO TYLER BOYD DROPPED IT pic.twitter.com/XnzCkQw7hC— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) November 12, 2023
Not only was Burrow without Higgins and Chase wasn’t 100%, but the offensive line often didn’t give Burrow the time he needed to find a receiver down the field. To be fair, the Texans secondary did a very good job keeping everything in front of them, but there were times Burrow never had a chance. He was sacked four times.
Bengals playoff chances
There’s still plenty of time left before the season ends.
They can still win the division, with four of their six AFC North game still ahead of them, but if they don’t win the division, getting into the playoffs as a wildcard could be tough. With this loss, they’re 1-4 in the AFC, and their best, and possibly only shot, to get into the postseason is by winning the division.
The defensive outlook for the season if......
It’s too early to know what happened to Trey Hendrickson at the end of the game, but things didn’t look great. I hope he’s okay, and we won’t know for a day or two.
But if he’s not........
Well, you saw how effective the pass rush was today without Sam Hubbard.
So, what do you think it’ll look like if Hendrickson misses significant time?