The Cincinnati Bengals escaped Foxborough with a thrilling 22-18 win over the New England Patriots who fought all the way back from a 22-0 halftime Cincinnati lead. Joe Burrow had another solid game outside of two interceptions thrown that gave the Patriots life.
Burrow finished the day going 40 of 52 with 375 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, two interceptions, and added four rushes for five yards. The Bengals did not score in the second half, However, they got into New England territory multiple times.
Best from Joe Burrow
Dominant and efficient first half
Outside of a miscue interception with Tyler Boyd, Burrow was as dominant as you can be in the first half against the Patriots, throwing for over 250 yards and three touchdown passes. He gave the Bengals a 22-0 lead at the break.
The Bengals started very slow last week in the first half against the Buccaneers so having a quick turnaround and executing out of the gate was probably a point of emphasis for this offensive unit this week and they answered the call. Tee Higgins led the way with Trenton Irwin being a significant contributor catching two first-half touchdowns.
When things were not going the Bengals way, especially in the second half after throwing a pick-six, Burrow did not let up. He answered by connecting on a big play to Higgins and converting multiple times on other downs.
This put the Bengals in field goal range. Evan McPherson went on to miss the 43-yard kick but nonetheless, Burrow was not phased by some costly mistakes late in the second half of the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati managed to hang on in a tough environment with a missed field goal, three turnovers and two missed extra points (well, only one counted). Winning tough games when things are not going your way is a vital component to have, and it seems as if the Bengals have that trait.
Zero points scored in the second half
The Bengals led 22-0 at the half but that was the cushion they decided to sit on for the rest of the game and it almost cost them a win. A massive forced fumble by Vonn Bell on the five-yard line with under a minute to go gave the Bengals the ball back.
The Bengals have won seven games in a row and done it in different fashions, but they have had multiple games this year where they are sloppy one half or the other. Sometimes the inability to play full complete games could be something that holds them back down the line. Now there is no question that this is one of the best teams in the NFL but there is also a group of other really good squads that will capitalize on a bad half of football.
They find ways to win, different guys step up each week, and they execute when needed but they need to be more fluent and consistent especially in these cold December and January months when they could be playing tough games on the road.
Two miscues that resulted in turnovers
Two of the three Bengals turnovers came by clear miscues between Joe Burrow and two of his top wide receivers. Burrow threw one in the first half that didn't have much damage except for taking potential points away from the Bengals and he and Boyd were not on the same page.
Then in the second half, he was looking in Ja'Marr Chase's direction and it didn't even seem as if Chase knew the ball was coming. This is what started the momentum for the Patriots' defense when they ran it back for a pick-six.
Luckily Cincinnati had a 22-point cushion to sit on and the defense made plays when they needed to. If these miscues happen against high-powered offenses where each possession is vital and critical it could be game-changing and cost them a game and in win-or-go-home scenarios that is important. I'd assume these issues will be ironed out as they usually are but it is still worth noting.