The Cincinnati Bengals remained alive with a convincing win over the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. It was a bit of a surprise, but the team has rallied around Jake Browning and is once again playing some of its best football towards the end of the year.
Here are some of those who impressed and who didn’t this week.
What a game by Cincinnati’s backup quarterback. Yes, there was an unfortunate pick-six, but Browning was largely accurate at different areas of the field.
We saw a little bit of everything from No. 6, including a worrisome exit from the game. He’s obviously getting more comfortable, though, accounting for 275 passing yards and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).
Joe Mixon and Chase Brown
Part of the reason for Browning’s continued success is the viability of the run game. The duo combined for 104 rushing yards and a score by Mixon on the ground.
They also contributed through the air in big ways. Brown had the longest play of the game with a 54-yard touchdown on a screen, while Mixon had a 45-yard reception as well.
Whether it was Reader against the run, or Ivey and Turner in coverage, it was a solid day on defense for this trio. Ivey had a pass defended on a deep attempt and recovered a muffed punt. Turner was active in the secondary, while Reader was leading the defensive line, who feasted in both pass-rush and run-stopping scenarios.
Cordell Volson (and really, the rest of the offensive linemen)
The Cincinnati Bengals had over 100 yards rushing again, while Browning didn’t take a sack all game. The latter really says something, as the Colts had the second-most sacks in the league entering this week.
Frank Pollack’s group has also developed a screen game. A few of these were effective this Sunday, and check out Volson chugging down the field.
“Money Mac” was totally that this Sunday at Paycor. With Matt Gay struggling with the elements, McPherson was perfect on a day wherein he kicked four field goals and two extra points.
No. 91 was utterly dominant this week. He started the game off with a sack of Gardner Minshew and didn’t look back (except for maybe a bad roughing penalty in the second quarter). Hendrickson netted two sacks, a batted pass and had an additional holding and tripping penalty forced on the left tackle tasked with blocking him.
If the Bengals wanted to make an unlikely playoff push, they needed improvements from the defense. Hendrickson was a monster, but the Colts also only mustered 46 rushing yards and a 2.6-yard average as a team.
Zac Taylor, Frank Pollack, and Brian Callahan
The offensive brain trust has been clicking the past two weeks. Since pivoting from the old Joe Burrow playbook, the team has averaged 32.5 points scored the past two weeks, with Browning having five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing), against just one interception.
The Bengals have also been able to run the ball well, netting over 100 yards as a team in each of the last two contests. Throw in the added dimension of the screen game and things are headed in a great direction.
The rookie didn’t bring much excitement to the return game this Sunday. He had 12 punt return yards on three attempts and made a bad decision on another that pinned the Bengals deep in their own territory.
Although he had the second-longest pass play of the day (46 yards) and sniffed 100 yards receiving, Higgins had some struggles. Two catchable passes were dropped, and he was flagged (perhaps unfairly) for an offensive pass interference to wipe out a touchdown pass that would have been an earlier game-ender in this one.
While he atoned a bit later in the game, Robbins still has consistency issues. The punt at the end of the first half that netted just 19 yards was almost disastrous in terms of momentum since the Colts had a ton of it at the moment.