Bengals 34 Buccaneers 23
I saw it. I must believe it. That actually happened.
The Bengals rallied from a 17 point 1st half deficit by scoring 34 unanswered points to beat the Buccaneers 34-23 in Tampa Sunday afternoon.
To say it looked bleak in the first half would be an understatement. The Bengals were flat-out dominated in falling behind 17-0. Absolutely nothing was going right. At 17-3, the ESPN win probability for the Bucs was at 87%. But from that point Lou Anarumo did his halftime thing, the defense forced turnovers on four consecutive drives, and the offense scored on four consecutive drives and produced 31 2nd half points. They had to do it all while losing two more defensive starters in Sam Hubbard and Cam Taylor-Britt.
The Bengals led 34-17 when the Bucs added a TD with :49 remaining to close out the scoring.
The Bengals move to 10-4, extend their winning streak to six games and take a full game lead over Baltimore for 1st place in the AFC North with three regular season games remaining. They have won 10 of their last 12 games.
Next: Saturday, 1 pm at New England.
First half domination: Tampa Bay outgained the Bengals 261-83 for the half, running 40 plays to 20. Tampa owned 1st down and bled the clock to lead 17-3 at the half.
Second half turnaround (Parts 1-5): It actually started with momentum found on the Bengals final drive of the 1st half, 7 plays/47 yards/1:39 for an Evan McPherson FG. The defense then forced four turnovers + a stop/special teams fumble to start the 2nd half. INT Trey Flowers and Germaine Pratt. Fumble recovery Joseph Ossai and DJ Reader.
Part I: Tampa botched a fake punt that bounced off the facemask of up-back Giovani Bernard at the 16-yard line to start the 2nd half. The Bengals moved to 1st and goal at the five, but were held to a 21-yard FG to make it 17-6.
Part 2: Trey Flowers picked off Brady at the Tampa Bay 31. Facing 4th and 3 at the Tampa 24, a defensive hold bailed the Bengals out of a 23-yard sack. A 3rd & 8 facemask extended the drive after a Ja'Marr Chase 7-yard catch. Burrow hit Tee Higgins for a 5-yard TD, they missed the two point try, It was 17-12 with 5:42 left in the 3rd quarter.
Part 3: Logan Wilson sacked Brady and forced a fumble. Joseph Ossai recovered at the Tampa 13-yard line. Facing 1st and goal at the three yard line, Burrow's underhand shovel pass was almost picked off before dropping incomplete. I believe I might have blacked out. Burrow then hit Tyler Boyd for a three-yard TD and connected with Higgins on the two point conversion to give them their first lead of the day at 20-17.
Part 4: Leonard Fournette's fumble was forced and recovered by DJ Reader. Burrow found Chase for 8 yards on 3rd and 8 and Mitchell Wilcox for 18 yards on 3rd and 9. Burrow to Chase for an 8-yard TD made it 27-17.
Part 5: Pratt lunging interception of Brady.
The 'fairly tough' defense forced four turnovers in the 2nd half and got the 4th down fake punt stop. They gave the offense the ball at the Tampa 16, 31, 13, and 39 yard line and the Bengals 47 yard line.
Tackling machine: Logan Wilson followed his 17 tackle game last week with 15 this week, including a sack.
DJ The Wrecker! Reader forced and recovered a fumble.
Dax Hill make his first NFL start (slot). He had a nice tackle for loss in open space and 8 total tackles.
Eli Apple had perhaps his best game of the season: 7 tackles, 2 passes defended, all 74 defensive snaps.
Brady shredded the secondary in the first half and the Bucs racked up tons of yards on 2nd effort and dragging of defenders. He had 190 passing yards in the first half, but was limited to 122 in the 2nd half. He did become the first QB to top 300 yards (312) vs the Bengals this season, snapping a string of 15 consecutive regular season games.
Burrow: 27-39-200 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks, QB rating 104.7. Four second half TD's. That's a TD pass in 21 consecutive games, longest active in the NFL/tying Jeff Blake's franchise record. He had another pass tipped and picked on the opening drive of the game...incredibly a league high 26. His last five interceptions have come on tipped balls. His throwing hand pinky was hit/cut early in the game and required sideline attention.
No early O: The Bengals offense went three and out three consecutive drives following the Burrow opening drive pick. The 86 passing yards was a career low in the first half for Burrow. They had just 83 total yards, a season low.
Drive it: Leading 27-17 with 9:18 left, they drove 13 plays/62 yards over 6:27 and capped it with a WilcoxTD to make it 34-17. Their longest drive of the day prior had been 3:54.
Are you kidding me?! One week after surgery to fix a compound fracture of a finger, Tyler Boyd had 5 catches on 5 targets, 35 yards, TD.
Wilcox: 3 catches/3 targets, 34 yards, TD. He was the coinflip captain in his hometown.
Chase 7-60-TD. Boyd 5 catches on 5 targets-35-TD. ...Higgins 5-33-TD. Mixon 5-33.
3rd down: Started 0 for 6. Went 5 of 7 the rest of the way.
Run game: 21-53 (2.5)....Mixon 11-21, Perine 7-24.
Dru Chrisman parachuted a 46-yard punt out of bounds at the Bucs two yard line in the 4th quarter. Averaged 45.0 on four punts...2 more inside the 20.
18 punts this season, 47.0 yard average/42.2 net, 9 inside 20........ 0 touchbacks. Zero.
McPherson FG of 41 and 21. Kick return coverage was strong with stops at the 17, 8 and 21.
Next man up: The Bengals were without DE Trey Hendrickson, CB Mike Hilton, his backup, Jalen Davis and TE Hayden Hurst. Sam Hubbard left the game in the 2nd quarter with a calf injury and did not return. Cam Taylor-Britt injured his shoulder and left the game in the 4th quarter and did not return. Allan George, just called up from the practice squad, took his spot.
Plays: 1st half: TB 40 CIN 20......2nd half: CIN 42 TB 30.