Winning feels good.
For the first time in weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals closed out another NFL team, beating the Tennessee Titans 31-20 in an exciting, thoroughly-dominant all-around performance. Joe Burrow was a steady beast again, and this time around, the rest of his team chipped in to give the Bengals their second victory of the season.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) November 1, 2020
The Bengals received the opening kick-off and began what would be another monster offensive day with a slow-burning 12-play drive that immediately resulted in a field goal. Tennessee followed the Randy Bullock kick with an eight-play drive off their own, advancing deep into Bengal territory before the NFL’s top safety, Jessie Bates, intercepted a double-covered Ryan Tannehill pass in the end zone. Finally, it was the Bengals’ opponent who coughed up an early goal-line turnover and not Cincy themselves.
However, the Bengals were unable to capitalize, gaining a pair of first downs and then stalling out near midfield, forcing a punt. The second Titans possession went the way of the first: a sustained, run-heavy drive that ultimately resulted in nothing due to a missed Stephen Gostkowski field goal (the wind across the state of Ohio was wicked today).
On their next possession, Cincinnati got points on the board following a Tennessee turnover. Another drawn-out, field-crossing drive took nearly five minutes off the clock — and an end-zone pass interference on former Bengal Jonathan Joseph against Tee Higgins set up a one-yard touchdown run by Samaje Perine.
Ahead of the half, the two squads executed another pair of nine and 10-play drives, both ending in touchdowns. Titans running backs Donta Foreman and Derrick Henry pounded the pigskin right down Cincy’s navel and Henry picked up a 3rd-and-goal touchdown.
Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins connected three times on Cincinnati’s scoring drive, including a huge catch in double coverage on 4th & 5 to set up a Giovanni Bernard touchdown a few plays later with just over 30 seconds in the half.
Bonus: For two weeks in a row, Cincinnati hasn’t allowed points in an end-of-half situation. Improvement!
In football, the “middle eight” minutes of the game are crucial. With the Titans receiving the ball to start the second half, stopping them from sneaking in a score right before half was vital. So was getting another stop coming out of the half, which the Bengals did following a third-down pass breakup by Vonn Bell (who was key on the earlier Bates INT).
This is where the Bengals won the football game. Two stops in a row vs. Tennessee led to yet another sustained, five-minute Bengals drive ending in a touchdown. This time out, Joe Burrow hit Tyler Boyd three times, the third time for seven yards and a touchdown.
24-7; Cincinnati in total control with 13-plus minutes to go in the fourth.
Predictably, Tennessee picked up the pace next time out, and analytics darling Ryan Tannehill found AJ Brown for a touchdown to cap off a quick rebuttal drive that cut the lead to 10.
Too little too late. Joe Burrow was in rhythm against a reeling Titans defense, taking four more minutes off the clock before finding Gio Bernard for his second touchdown of the day. All but over, 31-14.
The Titans rallied to get another score in 94 seconds off an athletic TD grab by Corey Davis (who was the go-to TEN target all day). But Cincinnati, up 11, turned in another four-plus minute drive before punting the ball away with under 30 ticks left in the game. Finally, a Bengals victory after weeks of losing early leads.
It feels so good. Joe Burrow, Jessie Bates, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Logan Wilson, and Carl Lawson. That’s the ultra-young foundation of a future winner. Heck, scratch out the myriad mishap games previously this season, and you have a playoff contender now. Either way, those six all had huge plays today. Burrow was himself (which is a historic rookie and improvisational sorcerer), Bates grabbed another INT, Boyd hauled in another 60 yards plus a TD, Wilson recorded Cincy’s only sack, Lawson got constant pressure, and Higgins made some absolutely nuts grabs, including this wonder:
What a throw and catch!!!!
— AllBengals (@AllBengals) November 1, 2020
It’s finally an exciting time to be a Bengals fan. As one on the younger side, who’s mostly experienced pain and playoff losses, Joe Burrow is gunning to become my favorite athlete of all time; Legend stuff from the rookie on a weekly basis. And this is a young core to get behind.