The Cincinnati Bengals and Bills met up for a Sunday Night Football showdown that had all the feelings of a playoff game. In these kinds of games, it can often be decided by players stepping up all over the field and not just focusing on one or two playmakers to get it done.
The Bengals were able to get that in this one, with quite a few players stepping up in big situations. Some of the few we haven’t seen as much this year were wide receiver Tee Higgins, as well as much of anything from the tight end position.
Higgins has been battling through a rib injury most of the season. He had yet to go over 100 yards at all this season, and he has had 21 or fewer yards in five of his eight games.
That changed this week as he tied a season-high of eight catches and got 110 yards on the day, making countless contested catches that could have easily changed the course of the game.
The tight end position has been bad this year. Many were fed up last week after Irv Smith Jr. fumbled inside the 5-yard line when it was looking like Cincinnati was going to put the game away early against the San Francisco 49ers. It was so bad that most fans were calling for the team to go after a tight end at the trade deadline.
The only change that was made was moving Tanner Hudson to the 53-man roster. Apparently, that was all it took to have the best tight end outing in quite some time.
Smith was the big free agent addition, but he has been injured and ineffective for a lot of the year. He came into the game with just 10 catches in his four games played, never topping 25 yards or scoring a touchdown. He had 26 yards this week, but most importantly, he scored the team’s first touchdown of the day.
The veteran also had a good catch and run in the red zone that almost resulted in a touchdown as well. He looked way more comfortable in his role.
The previously mentioned Hudson also left his mark. He caught four of his five targets for 45 yards. Three of those catches went for first downs. He came away with tough catches and looked like a beast getting those tough yards after the catch.
Hudson also caught as many passes as Ja’Marr Chase while recording more receiving yards.
Finally, there was everyone’s favorite punching bag. Tight end Drew Sample has often been maligned for his draft position not equating to the caliber of player he turned out to be. He has been one heck of a blocker for this team during his career, but he’s never really put it together as a pass catcher.
But vs. the Bills, Sample was able to release from pass protection on a 3rd-and-7 to catch a check down where no defender accounted for him. He was able to scamper in for the second touchdown of his career and a crucial score to put the team up 21-7 at the time.
The Bengals don’t win this game without these guys finally coming alive at the right moments. They all have earned their credit in this huge win.