Despite a lot of ups and downs, this Cincinnati Bengals squad continues to pull tricks out of their hat and find ways to win the game.
It has definitely not been Tee Higgins’ best year, between his injuries and his multiple games with a dropped pass, but when we need to step up, he does exactly that. He had a couple more dropped passes, but he also found the end zone in two key moments, one of them to secure a tie and give the Bengals a second chance in overtime.
Tyler Boyd. What can you say bad about this guy, one of the most clutch receivers, yet again, one of the most clutch players? He always seems to get open and able to make a play. He did just that on Saturday when Browning found him down the field in between defenders to set up a game-winning field goal.
In a time where a lot of fans counted the Bengals out and figured the season was over once Burrow got hurt, Jake Browning, “Jake Frost”, stepped into the role and has been nothing short of incredible. Some people mention the need of a backup quarterback, well the Bengals have one.
Actually, we have a second QB1. He has proven that he can lead a team to victory.
The more he plays, the more he reminds us of Burrow. He has a fire lit under him. He has poise, consistency, leadership, confidence and creates plays. It’s a big statement compared to Joe, but he’s playing phenomenally, and he is proving his worth to this team. He has taken this league by storm.
I’ll say it every week. Some people have mixed feelings about Joe Mixon and how he misses holes and how he has lost a step, but he shows up when it’s needed, like every other player on this team. He may not consistently get 100 rushing yards, but he’s not that player. With the scheme this team uses, he works well. He’s one of the best pass catching back in the league.
And Saturday, he went down in Bengals team history.
This defense sometimes is very hard to defend. They have us screaming at the TV nonstop for either a big play they gave up or a big turnover they created. It’s a love/hate relationship, to say the least. When you look at the defense as a whole, it’s not good. They rank in the bottom five of total yards given up.
But on Saturday, they showed a prime example of why you have to love them. They give up big plays throughout the game, and you can’t deny that, but in the big moments, they know when to show up and show they’re still in the fight.
Despite giving up so many yards per game, they balance that out with having one of the best turnover differentials in the league.
Not only that, but they have THE most underrated defensive ends in the league. He doesn’t need all the fame and glory, he’s just out there to play ball. He is now tied for 3rd amongst DEs in sacks, with 15.
Defenses play a huge factor in a team. Even when they get socked in the gut, like they did this weekend, losing one of their best players in DJ Reader and one of their good, young rookies, DJ Ivey, they get back up and they finish the job, and you have to give them credit.
The intensity of our defense pic.twitter.com/sBPSnIRDcm— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 18, 2023
Michael Irvin made a comment on NFL Gameday on Sunday about the culture in Cincinnati, and he couldn’t be more right.
The best part about this rejuvenated, young team is their ability to fight and not give up. Yeah, you can say there are some games they should have won, but you can say that about any team. even when this team hears all of the critiques and comments, they don’t listen to them. Better yet, it lights a fire under them and pushes them to go further.
Zac Taylor put it perfectly after Saturday’s win, and Burrow said the same thing earlier in the season. This team has the best attitude. It doesn’t matter if you win, just as long as you win. It doesn’t have to be pretty, a win is a win. A blowout win looks the same on paper as a close win.
Zac Taylor taking the Al Davis approach to playoff scenarios. “Just win” pic.twitter.com/ItDb9Fdxj6— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) December 17, 2023
Cincinnati is off to Pittsburgh this week for another Saturday game. Both teams are dealing with a lot of key injuries, so it’ll be a dogfight, like it is any other time with the Steelers. As long as the Bengals win out the rest of the season, they clinch a playoff berth.