After climbing out of the 0-2 hole to get to the 2-2 mark, the Cincinnati Bengals coughed up a winnable game to the Baltimore Ravens, who now move to 3-2 and are alone in first place at the top of the division.
This was a tough loss and most fans would say the loss falls squarely on the shoulders of Zac Taylor and his horrid playcalling. It's hard to disagree with that sentiment, as Taylor continued to call baffling play after baffling play and, as a result, the offense got going too little too late.
Why don't we start with Taylor in our losers section for this week?
I'm going to be honest here -- Zac Taylor is the only real loser from this week's loss. Yes, the defense struggled to contain Mark Andrews and Joe Burrow didn't play all that well but a lot of teams have trouble containing Andrews and Burrow did okay. Taylor, however, deserves his spot on the losers list.
I really don't know what more to say that hasn't already been discussed and written about elsewhere when it comes to Taylor's play calling. The guy did a terrible job on the biggest stage of the season and at some point, you'd think something has to give, right? One would think that Taylor would hand off the play-calling duties to someone else but it's the same crap every week.
I included this tweet from Blake Jewell because he's 100% right. The play-calling was why the Bengals lost this game and there wasn't another reason. When the Bengals opted to go for it on 4th-and-goal, they got to that point because Taylor called a bunch of atrocious plays, once attempting to pull off the Philly Special, which ended with Tyler Boyd getting brought down on the 14-yard line. He also called a SHOVEL PASS PLAY. I mean -- Why? Why are these the calls on the goal line?
The Bengals were fortunate to win the division and the conference last season in spite of Taylor but the ball bounced their way a lot then. They might not be so lucky in that department this season.
It had been a rough start to the season for Mixon so it was nice to finally see him look like the 2021 version of himself. The Bengals running back finished the night with 14 carries for 78 yards while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He also had 10 receiving yards off of three catches.
The offensive play-calling was a mess, as we've already established, but Mixon looked good out there. That's hopefully a good sign moving forward.
I totally forgot that this was the Hayden Hurst revenge game and the Bengals did make sure that Hurst got to put together some decent numbers in this one. The former Ravens first-round pick finished the game with six catches for 53 yards and a touchdown while averaging 8.8 yards per catch.
My favorite part of the game was after Hurst found the end zone and waved to the crowd. You just know that had to irk the Ravens fans who watched Hurst play for them in 2018 and 2019.
I could just include the entire defense here for the most part but I wanted to single Vonn Bell out for his interception in the first half. At that point in the game, the Bengals looked pretty lifeless on offense so when Bell picked off Lamar Jackson, it gave that side of the ball some life. They went on to score not long after.
Bell now has three picks in the past two games. That's exactly what he needs to keep doing to ensure he gets a nice contract this offseason.
It's rare for the Bengals to lose and to be able to only come up with one real loser from the game but that's how badly this game went for Taylor as a play-caller. If he were a coordinator, he'd probably have been canned by now.
Next up is the Saints on the road in what should be another tricky game for the stripes.