CINCINNATI, Ohio ( Associated Press) – With a faceless defense where every player does his job and an unstoppable quarterback, the Cincinnati Bengals have found a way to win.
Their sixth straight win on Sunday was their most improbable, and along with Baltimore’s loss to Cleveland, left them the undisputed leaders of the AFC North with three games to go. And they can reach first place in the AFC.
If the Jaguars win or tie against the Jets on Thursday, they can confirm a post-season spot.
Catcher Tyler Boyd acknowledged, “We just haven’t gotten to where we want to be.” “We want to be No. 1 in the AFC. That’s our goal.”
In a 34-23 win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati (10-4) rebounded after trailing 17-3 at halftime.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow dwarfed Brady with four touchdown passes in the second half, coming off one of the worst stops of his career.
The weak defense took advantage of the Bucs’ mistakes, recovering two fumbles and sacking Brady twice. Two of those turnovers resulted in short touchdowns.
Bengals coach Zach Taylor admitted, “We had no rhythm on both sides of the ball and at half time people breathed a sigh of relief and said we could control the game.” “An incredible team effort.”
Does it work
Despite all the injuries, the Bengals’ defense rose to the occasion in the second half. Coordinator Lou Anarumo mixed up plays and fake plays to keep Brady guessing. Tre Flowers, who had slipped on the depth chart, became the first Bengals cornerback to throw an interception this season.
Bengals cornerback Eli Apple said, “No one wants to take credit for what we’ve done defensively in this six-game span.” “We know what a difference that has been. We want to continue.”
It is difficult to find fault with victory. Also, it’s hard to understand how a team that was so inefficient in the first half suddenly knows what to do in the second half.
Cincinnati managed to make substantial adjustments and was helped by Brady, who was unusually sloppy with the ball in the second half. Burrow is a master at playing from behind, but the Bengals will need to avoid getting into such a deep hole early on.