The Cincinnati Bengals weren’t satisfied with the way they won Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they’ll take a win however it comes.
Cincinnati (5-3) led by as many as 21 points in the first half but stalled offensively and watched as the Bucs rallied to tie the game with 1:05 left before Randy Bullock hit a last-second field goal to win it, 37-34.
»RELATED: 5 takeaways from Bengals win
Now they head into the bye week with time to rest, recover and refresh before hosting New Orleans on Nov. 11 for the start of the second half of the season.
»ARCHDEACON: ‘A win is a win’
Here are the grades in our Week 8 report card:
The Good: Joe Mixon set the tone early with two runs for 24 yards to open the game, and he finished with 14 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the first half – a week after carrying the ball 13 times for 50 yards in a blowout loss to Kansas City.
The Bad: Mixon only had 11 yards on seven carries in the second half as the Bucs loaded the box with blitzes to try to prevent Cincinnati from chewing up the clock with a big lead. The Bengals finished with 138 yards rushing, which was a season-best, but only 23 of those came on 16 carries in the second half for 1.4 yards per rush and that seemed to coincide partially with the loss of left guard Clint Boling to a back injury.
Key Play: Mixon had a 43-yard carry to set up an A.J. Green touchdown for a 27-6 lead with 2:38 left in the second quarter. That was the last big play for the offense until the final drive.
The Good: Andy Dalton had much better accuracy than a week ago and completed 21 of 34 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. Green was double covered much of the game, so Dalton went to Tyler Boyd on 10 passes and Boyd caught nine of them for 138 yards and a touchdown.
The Bad: The rhythm wasn’t there in the second half as several runs went for losses and forced the pass. The Bengals went three-and-out on their first four drives of the second half. C.J. Uzomah was targeted four times and didn’t make a catch.
Key Play: Green caught two passes for 34 yards on the final drive to move the Bengals into field goal range for the go-ahead points.
The Good: The longest run for the Bucs was an 18-yard scramble by Ryan Fitzpatrick. The running game wasn’t the big problem for Cincinnati’s defense.
The Bad: The Bucs aren’t known for their run game but finished with 126 yards on 27 carries for 4.7 yards per carry, and Peyton Barber had 85 of those yards despite being limited by an ankle injury this week in practice.
Key Play: Preston Brown tackled Barber for just a one-yard gain on a first-down in the third quarter before a sack and pick-six that allowed the Bengals to take a 34-16 lead, and the Bucs had to settle for a field goal their next drive after a two-yard loss on first down.
The Good: The Bengals had four interceptions and five quarterback sacks.
The Bad: Tampa Bay still managed 450 yards passing, including two touchdown passes for 60 yards or more, which allowed the Bucs to come back to tie the game with 1:05 left. Fitzpatrick completed 11 of 15 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Key Play: Bates’ 21-yard interception return for a touchdown bailed out a Bengals offense that went three-and-out four straight possessions to open the second half.
The Good: Despite the wind, Kevin Huber still averaged 43.8 yards per punt with three inside the 20-yard line, and Randy Bullock had five touchbacks. The Bucs’ longest punt return was for eight yards.
The Bad: Bullock had one kickoff go out of bounds and he missed an extra point.
Key Play: Bullock came through with a 44-yard field goal as time expired, despite his first two attempts wiped out by late whistles for timeouts. It was his first game-winner this year.
The Good: The Bengals found a groove offensively in the first half, showing a strong mix of runs and passes in response to a poor outing at Kansas City. Marvin Lewis finally took some risks, going for two fourth downs, one of which the Bengals converted to extend a scoring drive in the second quarter. They do deserve some credit for pulling out the win despite a number of injuries.
The Bad: Cincinnati did not make adjustments in the second half and stalled offensively, as the Bucs battled back to tie the game late.
Key Play: Green caught a 10-yard pass on fourth-and-three to extend a drive in the second quarter, which the Bengals scored on to take a 14-0 lead.