AFC South Reporter
NASHVILLE — To grasp what makes the Bengals so harmful, begin with two performs Tee Higgins made towards the Titans.
Exhibit A? A Cincinnati first-and-10 from the Tennessee 27, late within the fourth quarter. Quarterback Joe Burrow focused the third-year receiver, coated tightly by Titans rookie cornerback Roger McCreary down the sideline. Higgins made an exquisite 27-yard catch on the back-shoulder throw by the entrance nook of the tip zone, giving the Bengals a 20-16 lead.
Exhibit B? The subsequent Bengals drive, with 3:08 left. On second-and-10 simply inside plus territory, Burrow once more focused Higgins towards single man protection. And Higgins once more delivered, hauling in a contested, 29-yard seize towards Tennessee’s prime nook, Kristian Fulton.
“He just continues to make plays in one-on-one opportunities,” Burrow stated. “If you give him a chance, he’s so big and strong that he’s going to go make the plays.”
Within the clutch in a low-scoring, playoff-like highway sport towards a contender in late November, the Bengals did not want their finest receiver, Ja’Marr Chase. They had been in a position to rely on Higgins, the second possibility.
For the ascending Bengals (7-4), who’ve now gained 5 of their previous six video games, Sunday’s 20-16 win over the Titans (7-4) was the newest proof of Cincinnati’s depth on the offensive talent positions. That can make the Bengals a power to be reckoned with within the AFC down the stretch for a second straight 12 months.
Not solely did Chase not play — he missed his fourth straight sport with a hip harm — however standout working again Joe Mixon (concussion) was additionally sidelined.
It did not matter.
“Guys stepping up,” stated Burrow, who accomplished 59.5% of his passes (22-of-37) for 270 yards and a landing with zero interceptions. “This is the kind of game great teams win.”
Higgins, who had seven catches on 9 targets for 114 yards and a landing, had three receptions of 20-plus yards within the fourth quarter alone. And backup working again Samaje Perine, getting the beginning with Mixon out, had 93 yards and a landing from scrimmage: 58 speeding (on 17 carries) and 35 receiving (on 4 receptions).
Whereas Perine’s effectivity within the run sport was modest — 3.4 yards per carry — his bruising fashion led to success towards the Titans, who boasted the league’s prime speeding protection coming into the sport. Perine picked up some huge first downs on the bottom and created some second- and third-and-manageable conditions for Cincinnati.
He is the most effective backup working backs within the league. In final week’s win over the Steelers, Perine had a franchise-record three receiving touchdowns.
“He just runs so hard,” Burrow stated of Perine.
In a defense-dominated sport, the Bengals acquired huge contributions from offensive-skill gamers not named Higgins or Perine, too. Tight finish Hayden Hurst had a season-high 57 yards on six receptions. And Trenton Irwin, the Bengals’ No. 4 receiver, made a diving catch for a primary down close to the sideline that helped arrange Cincinnati’s go-ahead rating. It was a reception on a back-shoulder throw that was confirmed after a Titans problem.
The Bengals protection was elite Sunday, shutting down famous person working again Derrick Henry (17 carries, 38 yards) and holding the second-best red-zone offense within the NFL to 0-for-3 contained in the 20.
The Bengals’ new-look offensive line, which struggled at first of the 12 months, was “excellent” in go safety, stated Burrow, who was sacked simply as soon as.
However it was Cincinnati’s backup offensive talent gamers who dominated the day. We noticed depth at these spots, along with the already current star energy, in Nashville.
“I got great people around me that I trust in to make plays,” Burrow stated.
When Chase and Mixon come again, this Bengals offense may very well be even scarier than it already was.
Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports activities. He beforehand labored for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Community, the place he was the Titans beat author for a 12 months and a half. He coated the Seattle Seahawks for SeattlePI.com for 3 seasons (2018-20) previous to shifting to Tennessee. You possibly can comply with Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.
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