It would be physically impossible to make a list of winners and losers from the Cincinnati Bengals’ 19-16 victory against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.
That’s because everyone in the organization and the entire fanbase came out winners after Joe Burrow fought his way through a calf injury that limited his mobility and effectiveness and came out of the game unscathed.
The worst-case scenario Monday night was not falling to 0-3; it was having Burrow reaggravate the injury to the extent that he would have to miss multiple games.
That didn’t happen, so there were 65,158 winners in attendance in the stadium, not to mention every person the Bengals employ and countless more who were trying to cheer while holding their breath.
Who Were the Cincinnati Bengals Winners and Losers vs. the Los Angeles Rams?
Winner | Joe Burrow
When you look at a stat sheet and see 26 for 49 for 259 yards with no touchdowns and one interception, there is nothing that looks incredible about it. But Burrow’s performance was nothing short of that, given the injury and the way the team fell behind yet again.
“I’d always rather throw for 400 (yards), but I pride myself on my availability, so I was happy to be available for my guys tonight. Obviously a lot of room to improve, but I was happy to be out there.”
Burrow got better the deeper the game went, and what he lacked in accuracy, he made up for in leadership and guts.
His longest pass of the game was a 43-yarder to Ja’Marr Chase late in the third quarter that came on a naked bootleg that forced him to run out of the pocket when the Bengals spent most of the night doing everything to prevent him from doing that.
Because of that, he was a sitting duck on a couple of plays when Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald broke through the offensive line. The first time Donald hit Burrow, he held him up.
The second time it was a sack, but Donald still kind of eased Burrow to the ground. His next hit was a thumper that rattled Burrow, but he shook it off and kept making plays down the field.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) September 26, 2023
Winner | Ja’Marr Chase
He asked for more shots the day after the 27-24 loss to the Ravens, and he got them.
Chase had 15 targets, one shy of his career high. And he had 12 receptions, one away from tying Carl Pickens’ franchise record.
“It was good to just get the offense going, get the team going,” Chase said. “That’s what I’m here to do. I just do my job.”
Chase was clear about not wanting Burrow to play, but when he found out he was going to anyhow, he knew he had to be there for him, which he was over and over again as Burrow threw the ball 49 times.
“I told him, ‘You’ve got nuts, boy,” Chase said of his message to Burrow. “That’s how we’ve got to be – have each other’s backs. I think that’s why our bond is so strong, and our chemistry is so good. We just have to make sure we’re on the same page, and me being there for him at all moments is the reason why we’re so good.”
When Burrow came out for pregame warmups, he first down on the bench next to Chase and told him it was gonna be a good night for him.
“Coming into this game, I was gonna feed my guy,” Burrow said.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) September 26, 2023
Winner | Trey Hendrickson
Hendrickson already was having a good night, but when Rams starting left tackle Alaric Jackson went out with a knee injury, he went into “Blackout Trey” mode.
Hendrickson had two sacks and another called back by a questionable facemask call against teammate Sam Hubbard. And when the Rams tried to give help to backup tackle Steve Avila, the rest of the defensive line took over.
The Bengals finished with six sacks, tied for the most since defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo arrived in 2019, and Hendrickson was the leader of that performance.
“Sacks are a team stat,” Hendrickson said. “Our defensive backs were playing well, our linebackers were balling as well. We forced two interceptions. I can’t rush by myself. We played good defensive ball, and I’m really happy to have the win.”
Winner | Logan Wilson
Two interceptions say it all, but Wilson also played a part in the run defense, getting back on track and limiting LA running back Kyren Williams to 38 yards on 10 carries.
“Matt (Stafford) started to scramble and I just flipped my hips and made a play on the ball. The second one, Mike made a good play of tipping it up in the air and I just made a play on the ball again. You’ve got to take advantage of those ones that come to you because they’re rare in this league.”
Logan Wilson has his 2nd interception!
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2023
Loser | Tee Higgins
Tee Higgins’ up-and-down season continued with a surprisingly difficult night hanging on the to ball. He had three, possibly four drops and finished with two catches on eight targets for 21 yards. That brings his Weeks 1 and 3 totals to two catches on 16 targets for 21 yards.
Higgins also got flagged for offensive pass interference, wiping out his own 38-yard gain. But he was terrific in Week 2, catching eight balls for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
His 28 targets are the most he’s ever had through the first three games of the season, and they’re tied for 11th in the league this year.
After one of his drops in the second half, Higgins ran to the locker room. He was not announced with any injury, so it might have been to change gloves or some other piece of equipment.
Loser | Brad Robbins
With the Bengals trailing by three midway through the second half, the rookie had his poorest punt thus far, a 33-yard effort that gave the Rams much better field position than should have been expected at their own 33.
Robbins has had issues in all three games, and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons said he is trying to get it figured out. Robbins’ longest punt of the night was 46, which he accomplished twice, both times with no return.
Simmons will take a 46-yard net every time. Robbins also had a 44-yarder that only resulted in a 3-yard return and a 41-yarder that was fair caught, so overall, it was his best of three games.
But as Bengals fans know, one bad punt can be the difference between winning and losing.
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