By Pat Gainor, Staff Writer
Thanks to a brilliant performance from quarterback Joe Burrow, the Cincinnati Bengals cruised to a dominant 35-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Paycor Stadium.
After several weeks of sluggish starts, Cincinnati was rolling right out of the gate, with a 60-yard dart to receiver Tyler Boyd foreshadowing what would be a monumental effort by the offense. Burrow would end up throwing for 345 yards in the first half, paving the way for a grand total of 481 yards–the second most of his career.
Ja’Marr Chase and Boyd both surpassed 100 yards and snagged three touchdowns combined in the first half as the Bengals surged out to a 28-7 lead with 50 seconds left in the second quarter. But a 75 yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Damiere Byrd and a lengthy punt return helped the Falcons gain momentum into halftime down only 28-17.
However, they would not get the chance to climb back further. In the second half, the defense suffocated Atlanta’s offense, with sacks from Trey Hendrickson, Sam Ossai and Sam Hubbard highlighting the stand. Mariota only had 13 pass attempts in the game, a season low, and was held to just 28 yards through the air in the second half. The Cincinnati defense has not allowed a second half touchdown this season.
Though the Bengals only scored seven points in the second half, Burrow and Cincinnati would seal the win with an almost nine minute drive beginning at their own three that would burn the rest of the clock out.
“They did a good job defensively to get us off the field and then sustain drives,” said Mariota after the game, “They were throwing it around, but they were able to keep the ball and win time of possession.”
Burrow finished the game 34/42 for 481 yards and three touchdowns, with an additional rushing touchdown. His passer rating of 138.2 is among one of the best performances of his career so far. After the game, Burrow says that he’s playing his best football of the season saying “I’m feeling comfortable. We’re getting our timing down. We’re finding a rhythm and the defense will keep doing what it does. We’re finding our stride.”
Boyd had a career game, finishing with eight catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. Chase also had a strong outing, pulling in eight more for 130 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s fun, man,” said Chase in an interview after the game, “Just coming out there, having a good game, dominating in all three phases, the defense giving us the ball back so we can score more points. That’s what we want and what we’re looking for.”
The Bengals, after starting 0-2, have now won four of their last five and are back to over .500. They stand in second place in the AFC North, with Baltimore in first by tiebreaker. They travel to Cleveland next week to take on the rival Browns on Monday Night Football.
Saints 34, Cardinals 42: Yikes. Former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton led the Saints to Arizona in hopes of snagging a victory from the sputtering Cardinals. However, Dalton would throw two pick-6’s in the span of two minutes, and the Cardinals would stifle a late comeback to pull out a win.
Giants 23, Jaguars 17: I cannot believe I’m saying this, but the Giants are 6-1. In an ugly game in Duval, NY overcame yet another fourth-quarter deficit to take the lead late. Trevor Lawrence, who threw for more than 300 yards, had a shot at the end zone for the game tying touchdown. But receiver Christian Kirk was stopped at the 1-yard-line, helping the Giants’ magical season continue.
Chiefs 44, 49ers 23: All eyes were on San Francisco this week as newly acquired star running back Christian McCaffrey began his time with the Niners. However, any hopes of a triumphant welcome were snubbed out by Patrick Mahomes, who threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns en route to a dominant bounce-back win.