In the Cincinnati Bengals‘ first-ever Week 18 game, they faced the Cleveland Browns and really didn’t have much to lose. Cincy clinched a playoff spot last week, making this game not necessarily meaningless but not one they were going to risk getting any of their starters injured.
It was hard to really take too much stock out of anything in this game due to the situation but I grabbed four takeaways to discuss from the 21-16 loss
It’s no secret that Sunday’s game was a battle of the backups but even with that being the case, the team hung in there and made a game of this. It was a 14-10 Browns advantage entering the fourth quarter and the defense was responsible for the lone touchdown on the day.
It wasn’t a fun game to watch by any means but at least we got to see what some of these backups could do. Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans got most of the work in the run game and the offensive line, at least the right side of it, looked decent with Hakeem Adeniji and Isaiah Prince out there. Clay Johnston also stood out with 10 tackles on the day.
Fortunately, fans got to sit back and mostly relax knowing that their squad is in the postseason. It wasn’t a fun game by any means but hey — I’ll take watching backups in the final game of the season if it means that the good guys are in the playoffs.
Chase makes history
I mentioned how the backups were mostly out there for this game in Cleveland but Ja’Marr Chase was active and started. He needed just 12 yards to break Chad Johnson’s 2007 single-season receiving yard record and he did it in the first quarter.
It’s been an incredible rookie season for the Bengals rookie and while people can argue “OL vs WR” all they want, Cincinnati wouldn’t be where they are right now without Chase. This was absolutely the right pick and it’s been fun watching this kid ball out and proving the critics wrong.
Welcome back, Mike
We hadn’t seen Mike Daniels on the field much this season but he had himself a day on Sunday while starting for Cincinnati. Daniels had five tackles including one for lost yardage and looked good out there.
During the game, I saw this tweet from Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic and wanted to share it here. He mentions that Daniels was having fun and didn’t look washed up whatsoever and I have to agree here. Daniels was on the practice squad throughout the season and has been banged up over the past several years but there was no debating that he looked great on Sunday.
Injuries still happened
While Cincinnati didn’t play the majority of their starters, they still dealt with a fair share of injuries in this one, which was unfortunate. Guys like Ricardo Allen, Vernon Hargreaves, Mike Hilton, Josh Tupou, and Renell Wren were banged up throughout the game and while these are backups (with the exception of Hilton), depth pieces getting injured isn’t great either.
As Andrew Russell tweeted, Allen, Tupou, and Hargreaves are key contributors so seeing them go down could have a big impact on this team as they head into the Wild Card game. Hopefully, everyone will be healthy and good to go, but it’s hard to ignore these injuries, even if they are to backups.
"Cincinnati Bengals: All-time passing leaders in franchise history"
This game might have had small playoff implications for Cincy, as their seeding was impacted but the team was content enough to put the backups in and let fate determine their playoff status. We’ll know more about their playoff seeding after the late window of games.