Tee Higgins, Samaje Perine seize the day in Bengals' rout of Steelers

Cincinnati Bengals, Tee Higgins
Cincinnati Bengals, Tee Higgins / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Bengals came out in Week 11 with a huge statement to prove and that they did, securing their first win against an AFC North opponent.

Cincy should have beat the Steelers back in Week 1, but it doesn't do the team any good to dwell on the past. Instead, revenge is best served with a resounding victory away from home, and the Bengals took care of business against the gritty Pittsburgh Steelers.

Cincy was without several defensive starters and still have no update on when Ja'Marr Chase will return, but no one can count them out of a game when Joe Burrow is under center.

The Bengals were rightfully the heavy favorites in this game, and Burrow's confident control of the offense ultimately overshadowed the team's sloppy defensive mistakes.

Here are the biggest winners and losers from a gratifying Week 11 win.


Tee Higgins and wide receiver depth

Higgins simply cannot be considered a WR2 anymore. Catching nine of 13 targets for 148 yards, the elite receiver had himself a field day with Chase sidelined due to injury.

His 148 yard total marked his highest of the season since Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins, and all game he was able to shake off defenders left and right.

Higgins couldn't cap off his afternoon with a touchdown but played a significant role in sustaining offensive drives through four quarters.

A note should be made about the rest of the Bengals' receiver room. Burrow spread the ball around to five different receivers and two running backs, proving that the team has adequate depth in the passing game and that Burrow remains a top-10 quarterback in the league.

Put that man in the MVP conversation.

Samaje Perine

Cincy's backup running back admittedly hasn't enjoyed much production in the shadow of Joe Mixon, yet Samaje Perine took advantage of every carry on Sunday.

Perine recorded 11 carries for 30 yards and four catches for 52 yards and three touchdowns, his most productive game by far in 2022.

Mixon exited the game in the second quarter due to a possible concussion, paving the way for Perine to become the RB1 in the offense; the running game continued to struggle against a stiff Steelers' defense, though, and Perine only averaged 2.7 yards per carry.

He nonetheless made his mark in the passing game with three well-scripted scores. If Mixon recovers in time for Week 12, Perine will still have a role as a reliable pass-catching back. If Mixon has to miss a week or two, best believe Perine will be ready as always to step into the limelight.

Trey Hendrickson

This man is always showing up on this list one way or another. Hendrickson notched two sacks against Steelers' Kenny Pickett and brought all the heat to the Bengals' pass-rush.

Cincy's defense benefited as a whole from D.J. Reader and Mike Hilton re-entering the lineup, but Hendrickson -- along with Sam Hubbard -- arguably had the hardest hits this game. Please keep Hendrickson in Cincinnati for as long as possible.


Eli Apple

The notorious corner has started eight games so far this season and has tried to change his reputation, but to no avail. Apple was responsible for a handful of blown coverages in the backfield on Sunday, including one that led to a George Pickens touchdown.

It wasn't all his fault as safety Jessie Bates didn't perform too well either, but Apple's flaws may be coming into the light now that Chidobe Awuzie is injured and Apple is expected to pick up the slack.

Despite his controversial persona, Apple finished 2021 as one of PFF's highest-graded corners. Let's hope he can return to elite form in the second half of the season.

Injuries, injuries, injuries...

Joe Mixon is the latest Bengals player to get bitten by the injury bug, suffering a potential concussion in the second quarter of Week 11's game. The sixth-year running back has seven carries for 20 yards before exiting the game, and losing Mixon would obviously deal a terrible blow to the Bengals' already underwhelming rushing attack.

Mixon joins a growing list with Ja'Marr Chase, Chris Evans, Josh Tupou, and other key players in line to miss a week or more.

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The Bengals didn't come out completely unscathed from this matchup, but given how many dirty hits the Steelers snuck in, it could be much, much worse.