With two of the four AFC North teams enjoying a well-earned bye week, Week 9 divisional action was limited.
This piece, as always, will be too.
Panthers 21, Bengals 42
The Bengals’ much-maligned running game found its proverbial footing against the clearly-overmatched Panthers Sunday, as the team totaled 241 rushing yards and 5 TDs, including 153 yards and 4 TDs by oft-missing RB Joe Mixon alone. Mixon also added a passing TD, setting a franchise record for individual TDs in a single game. The Panthers were simply unable to slow the Bengals at all, particularly after facing a 35-0 halftime deficit. The resurgent rushing attack allowed Bengals QB Joe Burrow to enjoy a rare easy day with little pressure while operating the play-action passing game. Burrow was able to take a seat, his job done, late in the third quarter, while backup QB Brandon Allen and the running game effectively closed it out. The Bengals’ defense surrendered two passing TDs to Panthers QB (and AFC North veteran) Baker Mayfield in mop-up duty, but was able to bamboozle starter P.J. Walker into two first half interceptions and several miscues.
Ravens 27, Saints 13
The Ravens did…Ravens things while dispatching the Saints rather rudely. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, missing his top two receiving targets, managed to (again) reverse traditional thinking by relying primarily on the running game (188 total rushing yards) to deliver the win. Jackson, when forced to pass, had completions to 10 different receivers, with no receiver catching more than two passes, further confusing a gassed Saints defense that appeared completely spent by the fourth quarter. RB Kenyan Drake was effective with 24 carries, 93 yards and two TDs, and Jackson handled the rest seemingly by himself. The Ravens’ defense looked inspired, buoyed by the debut of recent acquisition ILB Roquan Smith, who added five tackles, including two thudding early stops on short yardage against Saints RB Alvin Kamara to set the defensive tone for the evening. Of note also was the throwback game of 33 year-old OLB Justin Houston, whose 2.5 sacks and late, timely interception made a marked difference in reversing the Ravens’ fourth-quarter losing trends.
More short weeks coming up. Stay focused.