If there’s one upset that no one saw coming on Sunday, it was definitely the one in Cincinnati.
In a game where the Bengals didn’t have their starting left tackle (Jonah Williams), their starting center (Trey Hopkins), their starting right tackle (Bobby Hart) or their starting running back (Joe Mixon), Cincinnati was still somehow able to pull off a 31-20 upset and they were able to do that thanks to the magic of Joe Burrow.
Despite playing behind a depleted offensive line, Burrow was still able to dice up the Titans secondary for 249 yards and two touchdowns while getting sacked exactly zero times. The rookie quarterback looked like a seasoned veteran and that’s a big reason why the Bengals were able to walk away with the stunning win.
One of Burrow’s best throws came in the second quarter on a play where the Bengals were facing a fourth-and-4 from Tennessee’s 43-yard line. Bengals coach Zac Taylor could have called for a punt, but instead, he showed some serious faith in his rookie quarterback, who responded by throwing a 22-yard bullet to Tee Higgins.
The Bengals would end up scoring a touchdown three plays later to take a 17-7 lead and that’s when it genuinely started to feel like they might be able to pull off the upset.
Although Burrow had a clean pocket on the pass to Higgins, he did face plenty of pressure in this game. As a matter of fact, one of those plays came on a third-and-10 in the third quarter on a play where it looked like the Titans were going to sack Burrow for a 10-yard loss. Instead, the rookie made some magic happen on a play where he ended up gaining seven yards.
No, Burrow didn’t get the first down, but that’s the kind of play that can deflate a defense and spark an offense. Burrow’s mobility was a big reason why he got sacked zero times in the game, which was minor miracle when you consider how many starters were missing from Cincinnati’s offensive line.
With Burrow under center, the Bengals have an offense that can go toe-to-toe with any team in the league. Burrow has also proven that he can make clutch throws with the game on the line like he did on a third-and-1 in the fourth quarter. With the Bengals ahead 17-7, Burrow basically iced the game when he threw a perfect strike to Tyler Boyd for a seven-yard score.
The Bengals offense has been rolling over the past three weeks and with the team’s defense slowly getting better, this is a team that might be able to sneak their way into the wild-card conversation after their Week 9 bye. Coming out of the bye, the Bengals play the Steelers in Week 10, but then they have four very winnable games after that (at Washington, Giants, at Miami, Dallas). If the Bengals can go 4-1 in that span, that would get them to .500 and in a season where seven teams will make the playoffs from the AFC, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them surprise some people, just like they surprised the Titans on Sunday.
Alright, let’s get to the grades for every game from Week 8. If you’re looking for a deeper dive on the Falcons-Panthers game that was played Thursday, be sure to click here.
Cincinnati 31-20 over Titans
Indianapolis 41-21 over Detroit
Minnesota 28-22 over Green Bay
Kansas City 35-9 over N.Y. Jets
Miami 28-17 over Rams
Rams-Dolphins grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Buffalo 24-21 over New England
Patriots-Bills grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Pittsburgh 28-24 over Baltimore
Steelers-Ravens grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Las Vegas 16-6 over Cleveland
Raiders-Browns grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)