The Cincinnati Bengals soundly defeated the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, winning 27-10 in a game that felt much worse than the final score indicated. Cincinnati came in feeling disrespected, running with narratives about coin flips and neutral-site AFC Championship Games, and converting that into an emotional whirlwind.
The Bengals had their foot on the gas right from the start, and Buffalo did nothing but stand in the way of the truck as it bowled them over time and again. Here’s how our five Bengals to watch played on Sunday.
QB Joe Burrow
I thought for sure that Burrow had racked up some wild stat line on Sunday, given that every time Cincinnati needed a play, he made it. However, the line looks fairly modest considering just how incredible Burrow played, as he completed 23-of-36 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran six times for 31 yards, gaining 21 on his longest carry of the day. He very well could have had three passing touchdowns, but what would have been his second scoring strike to Ja’Marr Chase was overturned on replay. He was throwing to wide-open receivers for much of the afternoon, but when he had to thread the needle, he did so consistently.
WR Tee Higgins
Cincinnati’s second wideout, who is good enough to be most teams’ top wideout, didn’t have a huge day at the office. On four targets, he made three catches for 28 yards, so he made the most of his limited opportunities. However, on a day where most Bengals were so open that the nearest defender to them was out of the picture when the ball arrived, it’s surprising that Higgins didn’t do more.
WR Ja’Marr Chase
The speedy LSU product was Cincinnati’s leading receiver on Sunday, as per usual. He had a team-high eight targets, catching five balls for 61 yards and a touchdown. That score came on Cincinnati’s opening drive, as Buffalo’s entire defense somehow forgot to cover the Bengals’ top wideout. He was wide-open for a 28-yard catch-and-run. He could’ve had a second score, but linebacker Matt Milano made the football move just enough that replay officials said Chase failed to survive the ground in securing the catch. Chase had one rush for three yards, as well.
LT Jackson Carman
If I told you that one team was playing three backup offensive linemen, and the other team was playing its fully healthy starting five, and you didn’t know which was which, I guarantee you that you’d have watched this game and had no idea that it was Cincinnati down three starters up front. Whereas Buffalo’s offensive line looked befuddled and overmatched all afternoon, Cincinnati’s offensive line looked nasty, dominant, and angry. I changed my daughter’s diaper early in the third quarter, and the contents of the diaper were reminiscent of Buffalo’s play up front for much of the afternoon. Carman and his line mates were phenomenal, protecting Burrow (who was sacked just once) and clearing the way for running back Joe Mixon to gain 105 yards on 20 carries.
LB Logan Wilson
Josh Allen’s college teammate was excellent, making seven tackles and hitting his old friend once in his duties as the “mirror” defender. Buffalo did little to put him in jeopardy, instead leaving Allen to fend off rushers from all angles with five-man protections that weren’t capable of doing so. Allen ran for just 26 yards on the day, so Wilson was successful in that regard, as well. Overall, the bruising linebacker was just one part of a brilliant defensive effort by Cincinnati.