The Cincinnati Bengals picked up a big win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers of the contest.
Joe Terrier: The return to Louisiana was kind to No. 9. Burrow was surgical in the short passing game and looked to be the most comfortable in the pocket we’ve seen him all season. Some of the magic for LSU showed when Burrow came under pressure, including a 19-yard touchdown run on a 3rd down where it appeared the Saints’ pass rush had killed him. In the fourth quarter with the Bengals down five, Burrow escaped the rush again, finding Tyler Boyd to extend the drive, setting up an Evan McPherson field goal. Protection was always an issue, but Burrow looked just as good as we’ve seen him all season go off-script when the pocket went down. Finishing with 28 completions for 300 yards and three touchdowns through the air and the rushing touchdown, it looks like we’ve seen the old-time Burrow for the first time this season.
Ja’Marr Chase: Growing up minutes from the Superdome, what a homecoming it was for Ja’Marr Chase. After a calm first half, Chase woke up late to resume play. A few big conversions on the stretch and a 60-yard touchdown reception to give the Bengals the lead with 1:57 remaining showed how Chase can change a game at any time. Finishing the game with seven receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns, Chase sent the family members who attended the game home happy.
Tyler Boyd: Boyd was as usual on Sunday. Not too much flash, but he was there when called and stepped up. As the Bengal offense struggled to find the rhythm early on, Boyd offered a big 21-yard reception to bring the offense to life. After publicly stating that he wanted to make more contact with him, Zac Taylor got Boyd involved early on. Boyd finished with 6 for 66 yards. It won’t impress you on the stat sheet, but Boyd had another pretty big impact on the game.
B.J. Hill: A great performance from Hill. With DJ Reader out and Josh Tupou injured, Hill stepped in. With six total tackles, a handful of pressures and a big sack from Andy Dalton to force a 4th and long to keep the Saints alive, Hill was perhaps the most impactful defender in Bengal today.
Trey Hendrickson: The Bengals’ top defenseman couldn’t be fired today, but he still had several huge plays, including the hit on Andy Dalton late in the fourth quarter that forced a punt, which the The Bengals’ attack then turned into a game-winning touchdown. He finished with three tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass deflection and two QB hits. Ironically, the Bengals shut down Marcus Davenport, who would have been the real reason Hendrickson was still relevant during his Saints career.
Bengals Run Defense: It’s not the fault of any individual player, but the Bengals’ run defense had the worst outing we’ve seen in years. In the first half alone, the Bengals defense allowed 164 rushing yards. That tied the highest rushing yards allowed by the Bengals defense in a single half since Zac Taylor took over the team in 2019. To start the second half, New Orleans continued to notch the Bengals, leading to a nearly 8-minute drive that resulted in a field goal. Not only is the defense missing DJ Reader, but we’ve seen resolution issues that we haven’t seen from this unit in the past two seasons. Finishing the game allowing 228 rushing yards is concerning, not a trend that can continue.
Eli Apple: There’s been a lot of talk about multiple players returning to New Orleans, but Apple’s return was the one Saints fans wanted to watch the most. After social media posts speaking negatively about the city and the food, Saints fans booed every time Apple’s name was called out in the stadium. In fact, the AP announcer found ways to call his name more than other defenders. For Apple, it was not the performance he was hoping for against his former team. Coverage failures, especially on third tries and troubleshooting issues, have been Apple’s story today, without having much of an impact. Apple had a few good tackles, but the overall performance wasn’t their best day.
Trent Taylor: The normally confident Taylor had a rough start. After New Orleans’ first practice of the game, the Bengals defense forced a punt. After catching it cleanly, Taylor began to lose the ball before being tagged, putting it on the grass for the Saints to recover. Although he had a solid remainder of the game, Taylor was unable to make a big play in the return game to atone for the error.