Boyd says surging Bengals are ‘locked in’

Cincinnati hosts Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday

CINCINNATI -- Tyler Boyd said it’s “heartbreaking” for opponents when the Cincinnati Bengals are playing their best.

The Bengals were at that level last week against Pittsburgh and are carry over that momentum into Sunday’s home game against the L.A. Chargers in another matchup that could have big playoff implications.

Boyd has never been more confident in his team.

“We’re getting the respect we deserve and guys across the country see what we’re doing and how explosive our offense is,” Boyd said. “Seeing how dominant our defense is at stopping guys and getting them back on the field -- heartbreaking for teams when we’re playing like that because there’s not much you can do about that. Offensively we know what they’re trying to do. What are you going to do when we’re being successful? You’ll have to take that one on the chin.”

In Boyd’s first five seasons with the Bengals, he never had a chance to play for something in December. They were always out of the playoff mix by then.

Boyd isn’t as much the centerpiece of the offense as he was during some of those previous years, but he’s still a threat in an evolving offense and winning is more fun than getting the individual stats without the team reward.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” Boyd said. “The most fun I’ve had since I’ve been playing in the league. Like I continue to say, this is the best team I’ve been a part of and just having so much firepower. It can go any guy’s direction. Tee (Higgins) finally got his 100-yard game (last week), I had got mine Week 4 and (Ja’Marr) Chase has just been going crazy because he’s the rookie and teams wasn’t really respecting him at the time and now they do, so that just opens up other guys again. Whoever has the hot hand on a particular game, that’s who we’re feeding.”

While sharing targets with Higgins and Chase, Boyd is the team’s third best receiver statistically with 46 catches for 471 yards.

Boyd said this is the most unpredictable the offense has been since Zac Taylor took over in 2019, and the biggest difference recently is how “locked in” everyone is.

“We want it,” Boyd said. “We’re going on our way. We’ve been working our tails off this whole year. Myself, I’ve been working hard ever since I’ve been a part of this organization. And all I ever want to do was win. You know, that’s what I’m about, and whatever I can do to help the team do that, I’m fine with that, despite the yards and things not being where I want it to be. I know my value. I know what I bring to the team. So I mean, whatever I can do to help the team, I’m fine with it.”

Last week Boyd’s biggest contributions might have been in his blocking and an impressive tackle on Minkah Fitzpatrick after an interception, two things that don’t normally get as much notice for an offensive skill position player.

The Bengals receivers have been noticeably better blocking the past two weeks, though, and Boyd said that is a big part of why the running game has taken off with Joe Mixon topping 100 yards rushing in two straight games.

Boyd noted players are more willing to put their bodies on the line when a team is winning.

“We wanna be the best receivers, but we also wanna be the best blockers as well on the perimeter,” Boyd said. “We want guys to look at us and know we set the bar high. We want guys to see how we’re doing it because if we’re blocking our tails off then that’s gonna be even more motivation for the line and the tight ends to continue to thrive and help Mixon break them runs.”

Cincinnati could be without right tackle Riley Reiff and center Trey Hopkins on Sunday, as Bengals coach Zac Taylor called them both “gametime decisions” because of ankle injuries suffered in the 41-10 win against Pittsburgh.

The Chargers’ defense seems to run through safety Derwin James, though Joey Bosa will pose a threat up front, especially if Isaiah Prince is in at right tackle. Boyd said he would love to match up with James just for the challenge, as James often takes the slot receiver in man coverage.

“They got a pretty solid team, solid back end, and defense overall,” Boyd said. “He’s one of the leaders. He’s one of the guys that’s gonna get those guys going. So if we can come out there and make plays early and get them stressed and get them to go back and forth with one another, then I think that’s when we’ll have their number.”

SUNDAY’S GAME

Chargers at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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