Bengals should feel comfortable leaning on Joe Mixon

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

Joe Mixon’s best performance of the season came at the perfect time. The Cincinnati Bengals ran their way to a crucial victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 11, putting their No. 1 running back at the forefront of their offense.

They should do it more often.

Against a porous Raiders’ defense, Mixon rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, his most productive game since Week 1 when he rushed for 127 yards.

Cincinnati opted to stick with the run all game, though Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase got their fair share of looks.

The Bengals’ Week 11 win revealed what most already knew: Joe Mixon is elite, and the Bengals should rely on him when they need to.

Heading into 2021, Cincinnati’s wide receiver trident of Boyd, Chase, and Tee Higgins garnered the most excitement. Three quality wide receiving targets, plus Auden Tate? Cincinnati wasn’t used to having so much of a good thing.

With the spotlight turned elsewhere, Mixon stayed in the shadows, but not for long.

Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon is one of team’s most impressive offensive weapons

So far this season, Mixon has 180 carries for 759 rushing yards and nine touchdowns and is well on track to surpass his 1000-plus yardage totals in 2018 and 2019. He ranks fourth in the AFC in rushing yards with 759 on 180 carries.

There’s no question that the Bengals have gotten this far through their passing game. The chemistry between Burrow and Chase has catapulted Cincinnati in playoff territory, and the Bengals should keep the ball in Burrow’s hands as much as possible.

Unless they face a team’s that stingy in the air, like the Raiders. Then, they have Joe Mixon and can deploy him as part of their blistering run game.

At the very least, Mixon serves as an uber-reliable crutch the Bengals can use if Burrow or their wideouts are having a bad game.

It happens — Burrow throws a pick or two early on, and team spirits get quickly dampened.

But Mixon’s “angry” runs have the ability to jolt Cincinnati upright and make a game out of nothing. In Week 11, the running back even plowed through his own teammate to get an early down, which just goes to show what he’s willing to do to win.

The winning mentality Mixon brings to the Bengals is undeniable in 2021, as are his talents as a dynamic ball-carrier.

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With Mixon on the field, Cincinnati can field one of their most complete offenses yet — one as deadly in the air as it is on the ground.