Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
What a night in Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Bengals looked lost and uninspired in the first half, and were on the wrong end of a shutout to the Jacksonville Jaguars. But they flipped the switch, and finally looked like the team that beat the Steelers a week ago. While the Bengals didn’t score a single point in the first half, they scored on every possession they had in the second.
Joe Burrow was solid in the first half, but in the second, he was on fire. He completed nearly three fourths of his passes for more than ten yards per attempt. His best receiver was Tyler Boyd, who had nine receptions for 118, despite dinging up his hand during the game.
Running the ball is the only thing that Jaguars have been able to do well this year, so they stuck with that for most of the first quarter. James Robinson ran three times for 20 yard opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown. Matthew Wright’s extra point was good, and the Jaguars took a 7-0 lead with 1:28 in the first quarter.
The Bengals’ defense had trouble getting off the field on third down, as the Jaguars converted third-and-two three times in one drive. Each time was a run to Trevor Lawrence, and the final time it was a seven yard touchdown. The Jaguars gained 14 first downs in the first half, and they ate up significant time of possession, so they took a 14-0 lead with 4:50 to go until halftime.
The Bengals played a very uninspired first half on both sides of the ball. Excluding the first drive, the Bengals gained one first down and punted three times. The play-calling was, for the most part, conservative and the Bengals didn’t show any signs of life.
On defense, the Bengals were just as bad. The Jaguars converted four of their seven third downs. The Bengals couldn’t get the Jaguars off schedule, so they were able to keep moving down the field.
The Bengals finally stepped on the gas when they got the ball after the second half kickoff. A 44-yard pass to Ja’Marr Chase set up the Bengals with great field position. Burrow hit up C.J. Uzomah for a 22-yard touchdown pass to give the Bengals their first score of the game. With 13:12 to go in the third, the Bengals cut into the Jaguars’ lead, down 14-7 after Evan McPherson’s extra point.
The Bengals forced a three-and-out, and kept the momentum going. Joe Mixon got the ball all the way down to the one-yard line, and then finished it off for a short touchdown. The 14-point lead vanished, and with 5:10 to go in the third quarter, the Bengals had tied the game at 14 points apiece.
The Jaguars’ offense got back on track, helped by a missed tackle from Darius Phillips. They got back in the red zone and all the way to the red zone, and Robinson collected his second touchdown of the night. With 14:27 left in the game, the Bengals were trailing again, down 21-14.
With the ball and the deficit, Burrow connected with Chase several times on the next drive. The momentum from the second half continued to go the Bengals’ way as they drove all the way down to the 31-yard line. Burrow had to move out of the pocket and extend the play, but he found Uzomah who ran the ball in for his second touchdown of the game. With 8:59 remaining in the game, the Bengals had just tied it up again.
The Bengals forced another punt and got the ball back. Samaje Perine relieved Mixon on this drive, and had a 15-yard reception that moved the chains. Uzomah provided another big play on a screen that got the Bengals to the red zone. That was enough to get into range for McPherson. Even though McPherson missed a field goal earlier in the game, he nailed the 35-yarder for his second-game winning kick of the year.
The Bengals never led in the game, but ended up winning 24-21.
Cincinnati has won back-to-back games again, and improved to 3-1 to increase their lead in the AFC North.