Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season is officially in the books, and the Cincinnati Bengals finally have their first win on their quest to win the Super Bowl. 2023 mirrors 2022, as both teams started with two losses before they got their first win. Is it all uphill from here? We still have to wait and see.
Here are some winners and losers from the Bengals' 19-16 win in Week 3 against the LA Rams.
Hill went off against the Rams. In the first half alone, he had a sack, a huge tackle for loss, and a big third-down stop. He almost single-handedly kept the Bengals in the game throughout the first half.
There were some breakdowns in the secondary in the second half, but so far, through the first three weeks of the season, Hill has filled in for Jessie Bates III nicely.
Wilson is among the best pass-coverage linebackers in the league and proved the Bengals were completely right to pay and keep him around for another few years. He picked off two passes in primetime against the Rams, one in each half.
Unfortunately, the Bengals were only able to convert those two interceptions into three points.
Between the 20s, the Rams offense looked like they did back when they went to the Super Bowl in 2021, and definitely like they weren’t missing Cooper Kupp. But when they crossed into Bengals territory, the noose tightened, and then, when the Rams were in the red zone, the Bengals locked down. DJ Reader and Trey Hendrickson both had big sacks, and the defense, which bent quite a lot, refused to break.
It wasn’t until the very end of the game that the Bengals gave up a touchdown, but by then, it was too late for the Rams.
Trey Hendrickson and Bengals' pass rush
Hendrickson and the rest of the Bengals' pass rush made Stafford’s life a nightmare on Monday night. They were able to bring Stafford down in the backfield seven times. Hendrickson was able to sack Stafford twice, and Reader, Dax Hill, Sam Hubbard, and B.J. Hill each added one. Stafford rarely had a clean pocket, especially as the game progressed in the second half.
Chase was involved early and often on Monday night, but the Burrow-Chase connection really started to heat up in the second half. Chase finished the game with 12 catches for 141 yards.
After a shaky start in which McPherson missed his first field goal attempt, from 56 yards. He then made his next four, including one that gave the Bengals a two-score lead as time was winding down in the fourth quarter.
Money Mac indeed.
In the first half, Burrow threw the ball 33 times, and Mixon only carried the ball seven times. No other running back had a single carry. It was painfully obvious that Burrow wasn’t 100 percent physically, and it seemed odd to call so many plays that forced him to do anything other than hand the ball off. Especially considering the score was 6-6 at halftime.
Irv Smith Jr.
But Jason, he didn’t even play! You’re right, he didn’t, and that absolutely hurt him. In the first two games, Smith caught five passes for 27 yards. In the first half of the Rams game, Tanner Hudson and Mitch Wilcox combined for four catches and 40 yards. In fact, Hudson had more yards in the first half on Monday night (30) than Smith had in the first two weeks. It’s not completely on Smith, Burrow hasn’t been right. But this could hurt him either way.
Higgins wasn’t nearly as involved as Chase was in the offense, and when Burrow tried to get him involved, things didn’t work out. A long pass down the sideline by Higgins was called back for offensive pass interference, and he also had two drops, both of which would have converted for first downs on their drives.
No one is doubting Higgins’ ability, and it’s clear he’ll be in sync with Burrow soon, but they seem to have taken a step back after their big Week 2. Higgins finished with two catches for 21 yards.
Cordel Volson..... kinda
Future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Aaron Donald gave Volson fits on Monday night. He used quick swim moves to cut between Volson and Karras a few times and blew up more than one play.
I mean, it’s Donald, though. I could count the guards in the NFL who are going to keep Donald at bay for an entire game.