top of page

Cincinnati Bengals Secure First Win of the Season but Offensive Concerns Persist


Bengals blazed in their all white uniforms. Photo: Bengals Instagram
Bengals blazed in their all white uniforms. Photo: Bengals Instagram

In a "Monday Night Football" showdown that won't be remembered for its beauty, the Cincinnati Bengals managed to clinch their first victory of the 2023 NFL season, edging out the Los Angeles Rams 19-16.


While it wasn't a flawless performance by any means, the Bengals' defense deserves commendation for keeping the Rams out of the end zone for the majority of the game. Their efforts allowed quarterback Joe Burrow and the offense to do just enough to secure the win. Here's a closer look at how both teams fared:


Cincinnati Bengals


Monday night was a test of the Bengals' resilience and their ability to contend for a championship. With quarterback Joe Burrow nursing an injured right calf, they faced a crucial matchup against the Rams. The Bengals rose to the occasion, displaying the same determination that had propelled them to deep postseason runs in the past two seasons.

Chad Johnson showed up to support his former team during MNF. Photo: Bengals Instagram
Chad Johnson showed up to support his former team during MNF. Photo: Bengals Instagram

Despite a rocky start that led to some boos from the home crowd, the Bengals' offense found its rhythm late in the game, and Burrow managed to sustain drives and put points on the board. The defense, although occasionally vulnerable, applied pressure on Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford at critical moments, forcing two crucial turnovers and preventing Los Angeles from scoring until the final minutes.


Winning the AFC North for the third consecutive year will be a challenging task after two initial divisional losses. However, the prime-time victory at Paycor Stadium, coupled with Burrow's improving health, has rekindled hope that the Bengals can still achieve their lofty goals.


In just two words, this game could be described as an "ugly victory." It might not have been pretty, but for a team that began the season with two defeats, securing their first win was a significant achievement.


One standout performance came from Ja'Marr Chase, who had voiced his frustrations about the lack of deep passes in the previous week. He responded with his best game of the season, surpassing 100 receiving yards in the third quarter, including a spectacular 43-yard reception from Burrow. This breakout performance showcased the Bengals' reliance on Chase to kickstart their season, and he delivered.

Chase had over 100 receiving yards in the third quarter- his best game yet. Photo: Bengals Instagram
Chase had over 100 receiving yards in the third quarter- his best game yet. Photo: Bengals Instagram

A pivotal moment occurred when Rams wide receiver Tutu Atwell had a touchdown called back due to stepping out of bounds. This stroke of luck spared the Bengals from facing an early deficit and allowed their offense the time it needed to find its groove, resulting in a touchdown scored by Joe Mixon in the third quarter.


Despite concerns about Burrow's injured calf, he settled into the game as it progressed. Burrow appeared more comfortable, whether executing designed rollouts or evading pressure. His gutsy performance was precisely what the Bengals needed to avoid a dreaded 0-3 start.


Los Angeles Rams


In the absence of star receiver Cooper Kupp, the Rams' offense had appeared to cope well in the first two weeks of the season. However, their struggle to score a touchdown until late in the game against the Bengals exposed their reliance on Kupp's contributions.


The Rams had a challenging night on offense, going 1 for 11 on third downs, with their sole conversion occurring on the final drive. They struggled to find their rhythm throughout the game. Rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, who had made a strong start to the season with 25 catches in his first two NFL games, managed only five catches for 72 yards against the Bengals.


The Rams have little time to correct their offensive issues as they face the Indianapolis Colts on the road next Sunday afternoon. As we all saw on Sunday the Colts are becoming a force to be reckoned with as they beat the Baltimore Ravens in an OT show down. Therefore, this next battle will definitely be a challenge for the Rams who were once a powerhouse team that many feared.

The Bengals defense was able to apply a lot of pressure to the Rams QB during MNF. Photo: Bengals Instagram
The Bengals defense was able to apply a lot of pressure to the Rams QB during MNF. Photo: Bengals Instagram

Quarterback Matthew Stafford's performance saw him complete 18 of 33 passes for 269 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, with linebacker Logan Wilson picking him off twice. Stafford's longest pass of the game, a 46-yard completion to wide receiver Van Jefferson, was followed by his second interception.


A concerning trend emerged in the red zone, where the Rams struggled mightily before their late touchdown drive. Stafford went 1-of-7 in the red zone, with zero completions when targeting running back Kyren Williams, and he was sacked twice. This was a stark contrast to their red zone efficiency in the first two weeks.


However, there was a promising defensive trend as defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams' defense applied pressure on Joe Burrow. Donald had three quarterback pressures on Burrow in the first half alone, matching his total from the first two games of the season.


One notable Next Gen stat revealed that Stafford's second interception came when targeting rookie receiver Puka Nacua, marking the first interception on 41 targets for Nacua.


As the NFL season unfolds, both teams have much to ponder and improve upon. Bengals fans are hopeful for a resurgence, while the Rams aim to rediscover their offensive prowess. The football season is long, and anything can happen, making each game a crucial step on the journey to the playoffs.

Comments


bottom of page