Cincinnati hosted the Browns in a game they likely should have won, and the Bengals did just that, as the team took care of business. Though it wasn’t the prettiest of wins, the Bengals did what they needed to do in an effort to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Who benefitted the most in the Bengals’ 30-16 win over the Browns?
Tyler Boyd: The second-year receiver has been injured and rarely used this year, but he had a nice day on just two catches. One of them displayed solid effort, as he reached for a first down early in the game.
Then, when the Bengals needed points, he came through in the red zone. Dalton hit him for an 8-yard touchdown catch to get an early lead on Cleveland.
The running backs: Yes, both Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard ran and caught the ball well, but they did more than what was expected. Bernard had four yards per carry, while Mixon sniffed the same average.
The rookie had over 160 yards from scrimmage and the dagger touchdown as the game closed. However, both guys did dirty work as well, as evidenced as some great blocking on pass protection.
Tyler Kroft: Tyler Eifert’s replacement has stepped up big in his absence, providing a nice outlet for Andy Dalton. Kroft had three catches against Cleveland, including his fifth touchdown catch of the year.
Carl Lawson: Was there a time that No. 58 was on the field and you didn’t hear his name called? Aside from constantly pressuring DeShone Kizer, Lawson racked up 1.5 sacks and two tackles on the day. His bid for Defensive Rookie of the Year continues to build with seven sacks on the season, which leads all rookies by a few.
Dre Kirkpatrick: He had a pass defended on third down on Corey Coleman, but there were obvious spots of weakness from No. 27 on Sunday. He let up a 44-yard catch to Coleman, which was one of the few big plays by the Browns. He was the victim of other plays, too.
One of the plays that could most be filed under the Browns’ “what could have been” bin, saw Coleman dropping a Kizer pass off of his face. Kirkpatrick was beat on the play, and while it led to just a field goal, the game could have gone a completely different way had Coleman made the play.
Paul Guenther: Bend, but don’t break, right? Yes, Cincinnati had four quarterback sacks and didn’t allow any Browns skill position player to break out, per se, but they gave Cleveland more opportunities than they should have received. What if Cleveland didn’t miss a field goal and drop a subsequent touchdown in the end zone?
Kizer had a career-high 268 passing yards, while the Bengals didn’t force a turnover from the beleaguered Browns offense. Kizer, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson combined for 31 carries for 169 yards (5.5 average) and a score, which doesn’t bode well for the unit with tough games ahead on the schedule.