Cincinnati Bengals @ Dallas Cowboys
Final Score: Cowboys 20, Bengals 17
Writer: Michael James
Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals visit Cooper Rush and the Dallas Cowboys, looking to change the 0-4 record against Dallas since 2008. The game opened up with questions surrounding Cooper Rush and how he would look directing the Cowboys’ offense. Cooper would answer those questions directing the offense on a solid opening drive capped with a touchdown strike to Noah Brown. After the Bengals managed to answer with just a field goal, Tony Pollard answered back with a drive starring himself, taking a Rush pitch down the sideline to the 1-yard line, then getting the chance to punch it in on the subsequent play. On the other side, Joe Burrow was quickly acquainted with the Cowboys’ pass rush featuring Micah Parsons, which resulted in going to the half with 4 sacks. With the first drive on the ropes, facing 3rd and 8, Dallas committed one of its two personal fouls hitting Joe Burrow a moment too late as his keeper play was ending, allowing them to extend the drive and kick the FG which would be their only points for the half.
Coming out of the locker room up 17-3 to start the third quarter, the Cowboys felt unsure what to do with a lead. Like a dog catching the car, their next 4 drives would result in giving the ball back to the Bengals, with 3 drives ending in a punt after 4 or fewer plays, and the other one resulting in a fumble by Dalton Schultz. This would give Burrow and the Bengals the time required to engineer a series of drives to allow Evan “Shooter” McPherson, with the long snapper situation from last week handled, to chip away at the lead, catching them up with a few field goals (3 for the game). Tee Higgins, who came into half-time with zero targets, became involved to open up space for Ja’Marr Chase which allowed Burrow to operate back and forth between the two of them assembling a drive of 19 (!) plays culminating in a Higgins touchdown and a Tyler Boyd two-point conversion to tie the game up 17 each. Unfortunately for the Bengals, the clock showed it was now Rush Hour as Cooper Rush maintained the poise and presence to drive the Cowboys down the field in under a minute to allow Brett Maher to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired, moving the Cowboys to 1-1 and the Bengals to 0-2.
— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2022
Joe Burrow: 24/36, 199 Yards, TD | 4 Carries, 26 Yards
I’ll tell you what, if I die- I hope I am reincarnated and come back as Joe Burrow’s hair. The man is in a profession that requires him to wear a helmet and yet every sideline shot of him it’s just immaculate. Unfortunately, good hair doesn’t get you out of a rough start. From the Bengals’ Super Bowl run last year, only one offensive lineman played today from that lineup last year. The unit has a lot of work cut out for it ahead of itself, and in the meantime, Joe Burrow is going to have a tough time against defenses that excel at getting to the quarterback in the next few weeks. The final two plays for the Bengals in the first half were a sack-fumble, recovered by Mixon, and then immediately another sack to bring up fourth down.
Burrow was sacked a total of six times in this game, the third quarterback ever to start a season with back-to-back games of at least six sacks. He was unable to get hardly any time. In fact, Boyd and Higgins went with zero targets in the first half. However, this scenario is nothing new for our hero, and his experience in this situation allowed him to remain collected and correct the targeting issue in the second half to get his receivers into the game which got him into the end zone. I expected the Bengals to start slow with the new O-line, but down the stretch I expect the numbers to pick up just fine. I know it’s a bit cliché, but there really is just too much talent here.
The lion is on the prowl 🦁 @MicahhParsons11
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 18, 2022
Joe Mixon: 19 Carries, 57 Yards | 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 26 Yards | 1 Fumble (Recovered)
Samaje Perine: 1 Carry, 2 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 8 Yards
Joe Mixon‘s longest run of the day went for 10 yards, the Cowboys just had the answer to the Bengals’ run attack the entire game. Only averaging 3 yards-per-carry, he was actually outrushed by Joe Burrow at the half. To their credit, the Bengals remained steadfast in their belief to get Mixon going with his 19 carries and 4 targets. But to quote Romo, “They’re just not giving us a lot to talk about today.” This is about as low as the floor gets for Mixon, so minding the matchup going forward, he should be better next week against the Jets, who just gave up 113 total yards and a few TDs to their opponent’s starting RB this week. There is no fantasy stat for this, but Mixon’s adjustment at half-time to pick up the rush bought the time needed for Burrow to get the team back into the game.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Tee Higgins: 10 Targets, 6 Receptions, 71 Yards, TD
Ja’Marr Chase: 9 Targets, 5 Receptions, 54 Yards | 1 Carry, 4 Yards
Tyler Boyd: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 17 Yards
Hayden Hurst: 7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 24 Yards
Mitchell Wilcox: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 3 Yards
Drew Sample: 1 Target, 1 Reception, -4 Yards
Showing no signs of any lingering symptoms of last week’s concussion, Tee Higgins entered the second half with zero targets from the first and left the end of the game with 10 targets and a touchdown. I believe the result of the halftime adjustment of shifting first reads away from Chase and onto Higgins often opened up the passing attack. Higgins saw 36 of his 71 yards on the nineteen-play drive that started at the Bengals’ 17. Ja’Marr Chase drew the primary coverage and, as a result, had a harder time bringing in the receptions, ended with a closer-to-floor stat line of only 5 catches for 54 yards. I suppose they can’t all be highlight-reel games, but it stings a little with the draft capital spent acquiring Chase for your team. Hayden Hurst had the hands (say that again) today, putting up five catches on rather difficult “either we catch it or no one catches it” type of passes. With injuries to the others, and the skill set witnessed over the first two games, I really like Hurst moving forward on teams that are dealing with the TE coinflip that is relying on TDs. Overall, I expect up-and-down outings in the immediate future moving forward until the team’s front can mesh better to give Burrow more time to let the plays develop.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) September 18, 2022
Cooper Rush: 19/31, 235 Yards, 1 TD | 1 Carry, 2 Yards
People who just thought Cooper Rush was just going to be a hand-off first, check-down second, and overall game manager were greeted with an eye-opening show to start the game. Rush Hour’s first two drives resulted in 42 and 47-yard drives both for touchdowns. Okay, so Tony Pollard did most of the work on the second drive (all of the work). Okay, I really just like using the phrase ‘Rush Hour. Still, the fear of an anemic offense was put to rest, coming out the gate scoring 14 points on the first two possessions. However, after those first two drives, doubt started to creep back in as the offense seemed to rest on its early lead it felt like. And as much as I want the catchphrase to gain traction, the truth is there was a lot of luck today as well.
There were at least three passes that I counted that bounced off DB’s hands and could have been game-changing interceptions. Rush threw what ESPN’s play-by-play tracker considers five deep passes (I believe the definition is at least 20 air yards) and Romo even commented, Rush isn’t afraid to sling the ball and everyone needs to “watch out” for this guy. Something made the author smile when listening to Romo talk about the unknown backup quarterback for the Cowboys playing surprisingly well in place of the injured starter immediately. In the end, there’s a lot we don’t know yet as there are clearly a lot of rough edges that need experience to smooth out. But what we do know is he’s 2-0 as a starter in the National Football League.
Ezekiel Elliott: 15 Carries, 53 Yards | 2 Targets, 1 Receptions, -4 Yards
Tony Pollard: 9 Carries, 43 Yards, 1 TD | 7 Targets, 4 Receptions, 55 Yards
I know there were some hopes for specific fantasy teams out there (read: mine) that Ezekiel Elliott would bounce back and remind us all who he is and why you got a steal where you drafted him. He put up a good 3.5 yards per carry with, once again, none of them coming on a ‘busted’ run, earning every yard. But I would be lying if I said some concern wasn’t starting to creep in. To his credit, there were a few plays where Cooper Rush disguised nothing, allowing the Bengals to meet him behind the line of scrimmage for an instant loss-of-yard hug.
There was no aberration, he shared a lot of work with Tony Pollard, the star of the first half. You could tell Pollard had a bit of a chip on his shoulder coming into this game, and on the second drive ran hard on what is technically considered a ‘pass’, a 1-yard toss to the side from Rush and ran 47 yards with it. He showed up today and was exactly what you hoped he would be when you drafted him. Moving forward this is the looking of a split committee, including drives in this game where Elliott would run left behind the tackle and the very next play would be the same play, but with Pollard left behind the tackle. Keep an eye out for injury concerns moving forward, I would like to own the back that would take over full time.
Tony Pollard. 47 yards!
— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2022
Wide Receiver/Tight End
CeeDee Lamb: 1 Carries, 6 Yards | 11 Targets, 7 Receptions, 75 Yards
Noah Brown: 5 Targets, 5 Receptions, 91 Yards, 1 TD
Dalton Schultz: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 18 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)
KaVontae Turpin: 1 Carry, 3 Yards
With Michael Gallup out for a second week, Noah Brown showed off his rapport with Cooper Rush, both coming from the second team reps in practice over the years. He opened up the start of the game with 54 of his total yards on the first two drives including a touchdown. This is the second week he’s garnered attention and should be considered for deeper teams, Gallup’s return withstanding. Rush was looking for him a lot when going through the progression. CeeDee Lamb had a bit of a bounce-back into more what we were expecting with 7 catches and 75 yards. His lone rush in the first half didn’t quite eclipse the 10-yard mark for a point, but nonetheless is a staple in the Cowboys playbook to run at least once a game. 5 targets in the first half, 6 in the second, faired quite a bit better compared to last week.
Dalton Schultz will be looking to bounce back next week, after a miserable performance today including a straight drop and a fumble. There were hopes for Schultz being a prime look for Rush, but now that he’s getting reps on the first team all week, that does not seem to be the case. Schultz also left the game with a knee injury, which will be further evaluated on Monday. However, it is just one week and bears monitoring moving forward on your roster assuming he’s healthy. On a lighter note, KaVonte “Turpin Time” shows up here with just one measly carry, but showed a lot of spark returning punts/kickoffs and should be considered a good bench stash for 24-team fantasy leagues moving forward.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 18, 2022