The Cincinnati Bengals took the field for their first game of the 2021 season and while it wasn’t easy, they won the game in overtime. Let’s take a look at some of the takeaways from the Bengals’ 27-24 victory over the Vikings.
1. Defensive line was ferocious
The Bengals made it a point to address their defensive line during the offseason and it looks to have paid off. Now it’s only one game, but man, this unit was on fire throughout the season opener and made things difficult on the Vikings offensive line, especially in the first half.
The second half saw them give up some big plays but that’s to be expected due to adjustments made in half time. The game came down to the defense needing to make a big stop and they gave up yards underneath, allowing the Vikings to tie the game as the clock made its way down to zero. But they did what was asked of them and it wasn’t hard to see how improved this group was.
2. Welcome to Cincinnati, Larry Ogunjobi!
One of the free-agents the Bengals added to their d-line was Larry Ogunjobi, who didn’t have to move far, as he previously played in Cleveland. Ogunjobi was a monster in his Bengals debut and everyone was taking notice.
Ogunjobi finished the game with six tackles (two for loss) while also sacking Kirk Cousins once. It was the debut fans were hoping to see and they got just that from one of the newcomers.
3. Ja’Marr Chase silenced the doubters
It’s been an interesting summer for Ja’Marr Chase, to say the least. Fans truly believed this guy could be the same player he was at LSU but the five dropped balls in preseason were definitely concerning.
Well — Chase laughed in the faces of those who doubted him, as he was a major talking point in this game. In the first half, Chase had three receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown, which was the first score of his NFL career. It was just the performance everyone needed to see from Chase and now, we see that preseason games really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
4. Zac Taylor’s bone-headed decision
This season could be it for Zac Taylor as the Bengals’ head coach and while he dialed up some fun plays on offense, he also made a ridiculously dumb decision in the third quarter. Cincinnati was riding some momentum after going up 21-7 on the visiting Vikings and Taylor wanted to try and put the game on ice.
After not converting on third down, Taylor opted to go for it on the Bengals’ own 30-yard-line. Spoiler alert: It did not go well.
Not only did the Bengals not convert, but the Vikings put the ball in the end zone just a few plays later, to get the game within seven. It was a really dumb decision by Taylor and one that came back to bite him in the game, as the Vikings gained all of the momentum and ended up forcing overtime.
This could have been catastrophic for the Bengals but fortunately for Taylor, they ended up winning.
5. Evan McPherson to the rescue
Bengals fans have been clamoring about Evan McPherson all offseason and now everyone got to see why. First and foremost, he won it for his team in his NFL debut with a 33-yard field goal in overtime to give Cincinnati their first win of the season. Hell of a moment for the Florida rookie but he came through.
McPherson went a perfect 2-for-2 and also knocked through all three extra-points asked of him. The dude looks more than worthy of that fifth-round selection.
These were just a few of the takeaways I had in this game. What takeaways did you have?