The Cincinnati Bengals Proved They’re Much More Than Just Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase on Super Wild Card Weekend

Any conversation about the Cincinnati Bengals starts and ends with the dynamic duo of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. The quarterback and wide receiver proved that again in Cincinnati’s Wild Card Weekend win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

They’re not just ascending stars. There’s a good case to be made that they’ve already reached the top, and they’re ready to bust through the glass ceiling and go even higher.

With that said, the Bengals are more than a two-person squad. They showed off their depth, especially on offense, in the win over Vegas.

Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are the headliners for the Cincinnati Bengals

Both Burrow and Chase were great against Las Vegas, and they’ll get a ton of the credit for the win. 

For one, Chase proved that he’s not the type of player who can only ball out in the regular season. He can also make plays with the chips are down, and that’s great to see from the rookie. It’s tough to remember because he’s been so good, but he is still in his first season, mind you. In his first-ever playoff action, all he did was go over the century mark in reception yards, catching nine passes for 116 yards. Head coach Zac Taylor added a nice wrinkle to the play-calling, using Chase as a runner on sweeps and tosses as well. He rushed three times for 23 yards, averaging 7.7 yards per carry.

It was a monster day at the office for the rookie in his playoff debut.

Any praise for Chase must be split with Burrow. Though he’s in his second season, this was also his playoff debut, and he passed the test with flying colors.  Burrow completed was an impressive 24-of-34 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 70.6% of his passes and finished with a passer rating of 110.4 and a QBR of 62.9.

Most important to Cincinnati’s long-term hopes, though…the moment didn’t look too big for him.

“We’ve got all the faith in the world in Joe, so there’s never any panic on our end,” Taylor said after the game, according to ESPN.

The Bengals proved their offensive depth against Las Vegas 

Joe Burrow and C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals
Tight end C.J. Uzomah #87 and quarterback Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrate after the Bengals 26-19 defeated the Las Vegas Raiders | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Lost in Chase’s incredible debut is the fact that multiple players stepped up for Cincinnati on offense and made big plays in big spots. 

Tight end C.J. Uzomah, in particular, deserves a ton of credit for being a more than consistent target for Burrow. In fact, after Chase, it was Uzomah who the quarterback looked at the most against Vegas, and he was incredibly consistent. 

Uzomah was targeted by Burrow six times, and he caught all six of the passes thrown his way. That included a touchdown on third and goal late the first quarter that saw the big tight end run a hitch in between three defenders and come away with Cincinnati’s first score.

Tyler Boyd was targeted five times against Vegas and came away with four catches and a touchdown. That score was controversial because it sounded like a referee had blown the play dead, but it ended up counting nonetheless thanks to a nifty throw from Burrow on the boundary and heads-up scrambling from Boyd.

Kickers rarely get a shout-out other than when they make game-winning field-goals, but rookie Evan McPherson played a big role in the win for Cincinnati as he came away with 14 of the Bengals’ 26 points. Also making his playoff debut, McPherson was a perfect 4-of-4 on field goals and 2-of-2 on extra points. 

That’s some good offense right there.

The Bengals present a lot of problems to opposing defenses

Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
Tee Higgins #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter in the game against the Baltimore Ravens | Andy Lyons/Getty Images

When looking at the Bengals, there seems to be a prevailing thought that they’re too young to make a splash this season, especially on offense. That honesty couldn’t be further from the truth, though, because this is a unit that is far from a one-trick pony. As they proved against the Raiders, Cincinnati’s offense is much more than a game of pitch-and-catch between Burrow and Chase. 

Uzomah is a massive target at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, and he has seven years of experience with the squad. Boyd has been with the Bengals for one less season, but even he’s a veteran with now 25 touchdowns under his belt since 2016.

Running back Joe Mixon had a so-so day against Vegas, but he’s coming off his first Pro Bowl selection since entering the league in 2017 and is always a threat to take one to the house. He finished the regular season with 16 total touchdowns, 13 of which were on the ground.

We haven’t even mentioned second-year wideout Tee Higgins yet, who had his first 1,000-plus yard season this year and came away with six touchdown catches. He had a quiet game against the Raiders with only one catch for 10 yards, but he averaged 77.92 yards per game in the regular season, so he’s a safe bet to produce more for Cincinnati in the next round.

No matter how you slice it and no matter who the Bengals draw next, this is an offense that will be tough to stop.

Take away Chase if you can. You won’t be able to. Even if you could, though, Burrow and the Bengals have plenty of other weapons. 

Stats courtesy of ESPN and Pro Football Reference. 

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