Photo: Cincinnati Bengals media assets
Cincinnati Bengals running back Samaje Perine runs a play against the Tennessee Titans at Nashville's Nissan Stadium on Nov. 27, 2022.
"First place" sounds pretty good to Cincinnati right now.
That's where the Cincinnati Bengals find themselves after a 20-16 win over the formidable Tennessee Titans on Nov. 27. The 7-4 Bengals now share first place in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens. The win in Nashville also means that Cincinnati walks away with an undefeated November – something the team hadn't seen since 1982.
"Each group has stepped up when we needed them to, and I'm talking different position groups," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor told reporters after the game. "Last week, our linebackers played out of their minds. I thought this week, our whole defense played great just because of our ability to stop the run there. Our corners made some really good one-on-one plays today because they're going to be testing the pass game when you stop the run like that. And I think on offense, just the whole unit. I mean, I think our line's giving us everything we need to be successful right now."
Cincinnati last tangled with Tennessee in January, cementing a spot in the AFC championship
thanks in part to a magical, last-second, 52-yard field goal from kicker Evan McPherson at the Titans' Nissan Stadium. Playoff energy swirled throughout this season's game, too, with the teams going into the second half tied with 10 points each. But the Bengals shut down the Titans' lauded running game, and wide receiver Tee Higgins continued to shine while Ja'Marr Chase recuperates from an injury. Higgins wrapped the game with seven catches for 114 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown catch that broke a 13-13 tie in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, quarterback Joe Burrow kept being Joe Burrow, notching 22-of-37 passing attempts for 270 yards and one touchdown.
"I think we showed how physical we were today. We ran the ball against a team that hasn't really given up many rushing yards all year," Burrow said. "That's a credit to the offensive line being really physical, strong, understanding the scheme and to Samaje (Perine) and Trayveon (Williams) on running really hard, and making the most out of whenever they get contact at two yards and fall forward for five. That's the key."
"One thing this team took to heart was how physical they heard this game was going to be and that's a credit to Tennessee because that's how they play, but our guys answered the bell today," Taylor added. "You know, and to hold their lead back to 2.2 yards a carry and 38 yards, for the offense to rush for over 100 yards, for guys to step up and make one-on-one plays, for Mike Hilton to come off the edge and tackle that back one-on-one like he did, I thought was just a tremendous team effort today. I'm really proud of these guys."
The Bengals now have won three games in a row and are 7-2 in the last nine. That's nothing to sneeze at, especially after going up against AFC South leader Tennessee, which is now 7-4.
"This is the type of games great teams win. It's not always going to be pretty. It's the NFL and you are playing really, really good teams on the opposing end. It's not going to be pretty all the time, but you got to find ways to win and now we are starting to do that," Burrow said.
Fans can fill their bellies on Nov. 28, thanks to Sunday's excitement. As the regional chili chain has done in the past, Gold Star is giving fans one free regular 3-, 4- or 5-Way with the purchase of another one of equal or greater value the day after the Bengals win. The Who Dey Way promotion is good all season long no matter if the win occurs on home turf or elsewhere. The promo is available at all Gold Star locations for drive-in, carry-out, dine-in and online; mention the Who Dey Way special when ordering.
Next, the Cincinnati Bengals will go up against the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 4 at Paycor Stadium, the first game in the Queen City since Nov. 6. The Bengals last saw the Chiefs in January, when Cincinnati knocked off KC with yet another game-saving kick from McPherson
, sending the Bengals to the Super Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 p.m.
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