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Defense Saves the Day for Bengals

Joe Mixon - photo by

Bengals win a thriller 17-14 to even record on season

CINCINNATI – October 15, 2023 (

Bengals defensive linemen B.J. Hill and Sam Hubbard crashed into Seattle quarterback Geno Smith on fourth down with 41 seconds left to punctuate one of Sunday’s many red-zone stands in a 17-13 defensive masterpiece won by Cincinnati at Paycor Stadium.

 The Bengals had already staged a furious defensive stand in the final minutes and got sacks from ends Trey Hendrickson and Hubbard, the last one on fourth down with 2:03 left at the Bengals 14.

But the Bengals couldn’t kill the clock on a three-and-out  On first down wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who had one catch in the second half, went short and Joe Burrow went long, and on third down wide receiver Tee Higgins was called for pass interference.

But the defense had the final say on day they grinded out the win with Burrow finishing with 185 yards on 24 of 35 passing.

The Bengals scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, but were clinging to a 14-13 lead when running back Joe Mixon was stopped on third-and-one on the first play of the fourth quarter. But ubiquitous cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt got the ball right back as the ever-opportunistic Cincinnati defense struck again.

Seattle had committed only one turnover coming into the game, but quarterback Geno Smith threw his second interception of the game when Taylor-Britt made a diving catch and returned it to the Seattle 34.

But Burrow threw three straight incompletions and they needed Evan McPherson’s 52-yard field goal with 11:47 left to make it 17-13.

On offense, it was expected to be efficiently played while featuring the NFL’s two most accurate passers from last season. After he led the league with 70.8%  in 2021, Burrow’s 68.3 was runner-up to Geno Smith’s 69.8.

They traded interceptions on their first series of the second half. Burrow unfurled a deep sideline ball to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, but cornerback Tre Brown got inside him for the pick.

Then, with Seattle poised to take the lead on the Bengals 3, nose tackle D.J. Reader drew Seattle’s illegal block before slot cornerback Mike Hilton made a leaping sideline interception at the 3 in front of Seattle wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njgiba.

The Bengals came out throwing trying to drive it out, but Seattle came up with its first two sacks of the day. The Seahawks had to wait about 40 minutes to get one after they sacked the Giants 11 times in their last game.

The punt translated into a 23-yard return for the longest against the Bengals this season and it put Seattle in Bengals territory. Seattle drove to the 5, but on third down cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt reached around wide receiver Tyler Lockett at the left pylon and knocked away  a touchdown pass to force a field goal that cut the Bengals lead to 14-13.

Taylor-Britt was immense. He was part of a coverage scheme that held Metcalf to two catches for 30 yards with less than 12 minutes left before he got loose late.

The Bengals, who took a 14-10 halftime lead, held serve on their first series to tie the game at seven. They went  on a crisp 14-play Burrow hit nine of his first 11 for 58 yards, six of them going to his three wide receivers and none longer than nine with Boyd getting the last eight touchdowns on a slant through the middle of the Seattle zone.  

Then Burrow wasted no time going longer and hit Chase on a back-shoulder throw on the sideline and a silky move racked up enough YAC for a 31-yarder. It pushed Chase over the 3,000-yard mark in his 35th career game as he became the fifth faster player to get there.

Then on the next snap he got 23 more over the middle to set up another milestone. On a slow-motion developing play, Burrow went play-action from the 3, drifted to his left, and hit rookie wide receiver Andrei Iosivas breaking across to the left for his first NFL touchdown catch.

What doesn’t Burrow do? He then picked up the ball off the ground and handed it to Iosivas.

At one point Burrow hit 15 straight to finish the half 18 of 22 for 143 yards with Chae getting 67 of them on five catches

Head coach Zac Taylor sent a defensive message right away. The Bengals game captains were the season’s three defensive captains: Nose tackle DJ Reader, slot cornerback Mike Hilton, and left end Sam Hubbard. When they won the toss, they chose to start the game on defense.

But Seattle walked in that first drive in for a touchdown and that included a rare third-down conversion from the Bengals 12 when Smith had time to find wide receiver Jaxson Njigba-Smith fighting off linebacker Germaine Pratt over the middle on a 12-yard gain fon an offense that came in next to last in third-down efficiency.

The Bengals had a missed tackle, Walker kicked out 19 yards on five carries and Smith hit his first five passes for 51 yards.

The Bengals defense rebounded on a three-and-out highlighted by cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt ripping the ball at the last instant from wide receiver DK Metcalf on a sideline bomb Taylor-Britt and then edge Cam Sample supplied some third-down heat on an incompletion.

The Bengals’ first sack of the game ended the third series on third-and-11 when Smith tried to climb a collapsing pocket middle linebacker Logan Wilson was there to greet him.

Seattle kicker Jason Myers was 0-2 from 50 yards this season until he hit a 55-yarder with 43 seconds left in the half to cut the Bengals’ lead to 14-10 at the half.

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