Mon, 24 Jan 2022

Bengals Close Three-Game Homestand Hosting The 49ers

Cincinnati Bengals
08 Dec 2021, 20:58 GMT+10

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air nationally on CBS-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Adam Archuleta (analyst) and AJ Ross (sideline reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).

The game also will air nationally on ESPN Radio. Broadcasters are Sean Kelly (play-by-play), Kirk Morrison (analyst) and Sal Paolantonio (sideline reporter).

Setting the scene: The Bengals on Sunday face the San Francisco 49ers in what will be Cincinnati's third straight home game, and third home game in a six-week span. The Bengals will be looking to get back into the win column after falling 41-22 at home last week to the L.A. Chargers.

"We didn't deserve to win today," said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. "To dig a hole the way that we did with turnovers, explosive plays, the opening kickoff going back 48 yards, and just other things that I did were certainly unacceptable. The Chargers are a good football team, so when you put that performance out there, that's what's going to happen."

The Bengals fell behind 24-0 early in the second quarter, after the Chargers scored three TDs and a FG on their first four offensive possessions. Two of those possessions came courtesy of Bengals turnovers, which the Chargers turned into 10 points.

"We were down 24-0, and it was looking pretty bleak, but our guys stayed the course" Taylor said. "(The deficit) wasn't all on the defense. Our offense gave them a lot - they got 10 points off of turnovers in the first quarter, and we were putting them in a tough spot a lot of the time."

But what early on looked like a Chargers runaway reversed course quickly. Cincinnati trimmed L.A.'s lead to 24-13 at halftime thanks to two TDs in the second quarter, including a six-yard run by QB Joe Burrow. After his TD, Burrow went to the sideline in obvious pain from what he later said was a dislocated pinky finger on his throwing hand. All eyes - and TV cameras - were on Burrow as he practiced throwing on the sideline in obvious pain.

"It was a decision of, 'Make it feel better, or continue to somewhat throw the ball,'" Burrow said after the game. "So I decided to be able to throw the ball. It was just something I had to play through. That's what football is - you've got to play through injuries sometimes. It's just something I'm going to have to deal with. I'm not going to miss any games because of it. That's not something that's going to happen."

Despite the injury, Burrow led the Bengals to a FG and TD on their first two possessions of the second half, closing the gap to 24-22. The TD came on a seven-yard rush by HB Joe Mixon, who now has a TD in nine straight games and enters this Sunday's game vs. San Francisco needing a TD to tie the team record for consecutive games with a TD.

Cincinnati's defense, which earlier in the game had lost two starters in LB Logan Wilson and CB Chidobe Awuzie, held the Chargers scoreless in the third quarter and allowed the offense to continue its climb. The Bengals repeatedly pressured Chargers QB Justin Herbert, and sacked him four times on the day.

One of those came from DE Trey Hendrickson, who now has a sack in eight straight games - the longest such streak in team history, longest active streak in the NFL, and tied for the seventh-longest streak in league history.

"We gave up 24 points on the first four drives of the game, but then our defense really bowed up from there," Taylor said. "Our depth did a good job coming in there and holding the fort down and giving us a chance to get back in the game. That's just a credit to all 53 guys that we have on the roster and all the guys making sure that they're ready, because you never know when you're going to get that opportunity."

Down two points early in the fourth quarter, the Bengals drove into field goal range and looked poised to take their first lead of the game when HB Joe Mixon did something he rarely ever does - fumble. Chargers CB Tevaughn Campbell scooped up the fumble and returned it 61 yards for a TD, re-extending L.A.'s lead to 31-22. It was Mixon's first fumble on a carry in 328 rushing attempts, the third-longest streak by a Bengal in the last 31 years.

"We had the momentum going there," Mixon said. "But that was a big fumble, and I take full responsibility for that. My teammates count on me, and I let them down. I have to learn from it and move on. It doesn't happen often, but I have to take full responsibility on that. I have to be better."

Cincinnati made yet another comeback attempt midway through the fourth quarter and drove down to the Chargers' 15-yard line, but a Joe Burrow INT - the Bengals' fourth turnover of the day - ended that effort.

San Francisco enters Sunday's game at 6-6 after losing 30-23 at Seattle last week.

The series: The 49ers lead, 12-4, including their close victories in each of the Bengals' two Super Bowls. The 49ers prevailed 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI at Pontiac, Mich. (1981 season) and won 20-16 in Super Bowl XXIII at Miami ('88 season).

The 49ers hold the highest winning percentage (.750) against the Bengals of any NFL team. The Bengals' most recent victory in the series was a 24-14 win in 2015 at San Francisco.

This weekend's matchup is just the fourth visit to Paul Brown Stadium for the 49ers, and it's only their eighth visit ever to Cincinnati. The 49ers are 2-1 at PBS, and they lead the series 5-2 in the Queen City overall.

Bengals-49ers connections: 49ers DL Jordan Willis originally was a third-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2017, and was with Cincinnati until 2019 ... Bengals S Mike J. Thomas originally was a college free agent signee of the 49ers in 2012, and was with San Francisco until late in the '13 season. Thomas also played at Stanford University ... Bengals CB Chidobe Awuzie is from San Jose, Calif. (Oak Grove High School) ... Bengals HB Joe Mixon is from Oakley, Calif. (Freedom High School) ... Bengals OT Jonah Williams and QB Jake Browning (practice squad) are both from Folsom, Calif. and were teammates at Folsom High School ... 49ers DL Nick Bosa and RB Trey Sermon both played at Ohio State University ... Bengals WR Trenton Irwin played at Stanford University ... Bengals WR Trent Taylor (practice squad) originally was a fifth-round draft pick of the 49ers, and was with San Francisco through the 2020 season ... Bengals S Trayvon Henderson (practice squad) is from Sacramento, Calif. (Grant Union High School) ... Bengals offensive line coach/run game coordinator Frank Pollack was a sixth-round draft pick of the 49ers in 1990, and played seven combined seasons ('90-91, '94-98) with San Francisco ... Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan grew up in the Bay Area and played QB at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif, where he was part of the school's national-record 151-game winning streak and led the team to a No. 1 national ranking. Callahan also spent spent two years (2008-09) as an assistant coach at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif. ... Bengals wide receivers coach Troy Walters played wide receiver at Stanford University from 1995-99 ... Bengals strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese coached at Fresno State University from 2012-15 ... Bengals assistant strength and conditioning coach Todd Hunt played (2012-15) and coached (2016-17) at Fresno State University... Bengals assistant strength and conditioning coach Garrett Swanson was a punter/kicker at Fresno State University from 2012-15 ... 49ers assistant offensive line coach Zach Yenser is from Fort Mitchell, Ky. ... 49ers senior defensive assistant/running game specialist James Bettcher coached at Bowling Green State University in 2006 ... 49ers running backs coach Robert Turner Jr. coached at Ohio State University from 1989-90.

Uniform watch: The Bengals are scheduled to wear black jerseys and white pants (orange stripes) this week vs. San Francisco. The team over the offseason unveiled new uniforms, marking Cincinnati's first significant uniform redesign since 2004.

There are three different color options for the new jerseys - black, white and orange. The pants also feature three different options - black with orange stripes, white with orange stripes, and white with black stripes. The team's iconic striped helmet was unchanged.

Bengals great in "middle eight": Much has been made this season of the importance of the "middle eight," a stretch of a game that spans the last four minutes of the first half and first four minutes of the second half. Among the people who have touted the importance of the "middle eight" have been former NFL GM Michael Lombardi and current Buccaneers QB Tom Brady.

"The 'middle eight' minutes of the game are so important to the overall outcome," Brady said earlier this year on ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast with Peyton and Eli Manning. "Who wins the end of the first half and then the start of the third quarter? A lot of times when you defer and you get the ball on offense (to start the second half), you can create a 14-point swing without them ever touching the ball if you score before the half and then you score coming out in the third quarter. You definitely don't want to give the ball back to your opponents (at the end of the half). We always call it "the last shot" in basketball - you don't want to come down and throw up a three-pointer with 18 seconds left on the shot clock."

So how do the Bengals stack up during the "middle eight?" They're among the best in the NFL this season, and their plus-47 point differential equates to a 3.9-point per game edge in that time period.

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Bengals tough when Mixon hits 20 carries: The Bengals hold an 11-7 record when HB Joe Mixon reaches the 20-carry mark. And in those 18 games, Mixon has topped 100 rushing yards 12 times. Eleven of his last 14 games with 20 carries have resulted in 100 or more rushing yards.

The Bengals are 3-1 this year when Mixon hits the mark. Last year, despite being limited by a foot injury to just six games, Mixon hit the 20-carry mark twice, and the Bengals were 1-1 in those contests.

Chase nearing Bengals rookie records: Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase this season has had what already could be considered one the top rookie seasons in team history. That claim figures to be cemented in the coming weeks, as Chase continues his climb up Cincinnati's rookie receiving record books.

Chase has three 100-yard receiving games this season, and could tie WR A.J. Green's team rookie record (four) this Sunday. He currently is tied with WRs Isaac Curtis and Eddie Brown for second-most by a Bengals rookie. Chase has eight receiving TDs, and could tie WR Isaac Curtis' team rookie record (nine) this Sunday. Chase's eight scores currently stand tied for second-most by a Bengals rookie with WR Cris Collinsworth and Brown.

Chase currently has 55 receptions, the fifth-most ever by a Bengals rookie. Collinsworth and WR Tee Higgins (67) share the team's rookie record in that category, followed by Green (65) and HB Giovani Bernard (56). Chase already passed WR Tyler Boyd (54) and Brown (53).

Chase currently has 958 receiving yards, third-most ever by a Bengals rookie. Green (1057) holds the team's rookie record, followed by Collinsworth (1009). Chase has already passed Brown (942), Higgins (908) and WR Darnay Scott (896).

Hubbard a Day 2 draft steal: DE Sam Hubbard, a third-round pick (77th overall) of the Bengals in 2018, ranks second in sacks (24.0) among all players from the '18 rookie class (draft picks and college free agents).

Players' listed positions vary by media outlet (e.g. whether a player is classified as a LB or DE), but according to NFL.com's draft record, Hubbard was the 13th defensive lineman selected in 2018 - five DEs and seven DTs came off the board before him. According to NFL.com, there were a total of 40 defensive linemen (20 DEs, 20 DTs) selected in the 2018 draft, along with 32 linebackers and one player classified as "EDGE." There were also, of course, numerous undrafted rookies in 2018.

Hubbard has been the Bengals' starting RDE since 2019, and signed a contract extension with the Bengals in July that keeps him in Cincinnati through the end of the 2025 season.

Bengals Weekly Release | Regular Season Week 14, 2021 vs. San Francisco 49ers [PDF]

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