CINCINNATI – October 23, 2022
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow turned Sunday’s game at sun-splashed Paycor Stadium into a robust 7-on-7 drill as he played pitch and catch for the second biggest day of his career in a 35-17 victory.
Wide receiver Tyler Boyd had a career-high 155 yards, Ja’Marr Chase went for 130 for a second straight game and Tee Higgins racked up 93 as the Bengals rolled to 537 yards.
Burrow sifted the Falcons on 34 of 42 passing for 481 yards, the NFL high this season, and three touchdowns on a blistering 138.2 passer rating.
The Bengals shot to a 28-7 lead with 49 seconds left in a first half Burrow pitched-and-caught for 345 yards and three touchdowns on a perfect passer rating of 158.3 that included 17 straight with wide receivers Tyler Boyd (118) and Ja’Marr Chase (112) getting their 100-yard games early.
It was the first time two Bengals receivers got 100 yards on a half since Sept. 18, 2011 in Denver A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson did it in the second half.
But the Falcons scored 10 points in the final 49 seconds of the half when quarterback Marcus Mariota hit Damiere Byrd for his first catch of the season, a 75-yard bomb running past cornerback Eli Apple giving up his first touchdown pass of the season on the longest pass against the Bengals in 18 years.
Then when the Bengals stayed aggressive and got stopped for the first time all day, they punted and NFL punt return leader Avery Williams turned a missed tackle by wide receiver Michael Thomas into a 57-yard return up the right side as linebacker Markus Bailey made a touchdown-saving tackle. Younghoe Koo’s 43-yard field goal at the gun made it 28-17 at the half.
But they got good news coming out of the half. Chase, who limped off, came back and so did right tackle La’el Collins (ankle) who missed most of the second quarter.
For all the yards, it was the Bengals defense that set the tone for the second half against the Falcons offense that came into the game with the fewest three-and-outs in the NFL and the Bengals put two on them to open the half.
Among the big plays: Right edge Trey Hendrickson’s sack, strong safety Vonn Bell’s tackle for loss and free safety Jessie Bates’ hellacious third-down stop on a scrambling Mariota.
(Hendrickson later walked off the field with a neck injury.)
In between, Burrow snuck in from one yard out for his second fourth-touchdown day of the season and a 35-17 lead with 5:20 left in the third quarter. To set it up, he found Boyd for 24 yards deep down the middle and then got Higgins into the act with a 22-yard catch down the middle.
As the game wound down, Bengals edger Joseph Ossai got his first NFL sack.
Three plays after his 60-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Chase last week, Burrow opened the game two minutes in with a 60-yard floater down the middle to Boyd as he froze the Falcons secondary with play-action out of the shot gun.
Running back Joe Mixon had one of the great one-yard touchdown runs in Bengals history to put them up, 14-0, on third-and-goal, on what is becoming a rare snap from under center. Mixon made a cut, stumbled, re-set himself, broke tackle Abdullah Anderson’s tackle and ran over everybody else ten minutes
Chase set it up when he provided a harbinger of things to come. After Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell went down with a hamstring injury, they replaced him with practice squadder Cornell Armstrong, a fourth-year player who hasn’t played a snap since 2020 and Burrow promptly went after him when he hooked up with Chase for a 15-yard back shoulder throw.
Then they went up 21-0 on the first play of the second quarter when Burrow saw Chase one-on-one with Armstrong on the right sideline and hit him on the helmet at the goal line for a 32-yard touchdown pass. But not before they committed two penalties.
No problem. Chase was wide open over the middle for an 11-yarder on third-and-10 and then Boyd made a terrific one-handed catch over the middle for 20 yards on his way to 118 yards in the half.
Then Chase matched him when he went over 100 yards in the half with the help of another long touchdown, this one a 41-yarder with 49 seconds left in the half that made it 28-7. This one was of the yards after catch variety. Chase stopped in front of cornerback Darren Hall on the left sideline at the 25 and then spun away to the middle and ran away from everybody before going into the locker room with 112.