With wide receiver Tyler Boyd cashing his first 1,000-yard season and running back Joe Mixon drawing ever closer with Sunday's 84-yard first half, the Bengals turned over the Raiders twice in taking a 20-7 halftime lead in the Paul Brown Stadium finale.
Boyd, who came into the game ten yards shy of 1,000, finished the half with four catches with 38 yards, but limped off the field with a knee injury with 35 seconds left in the half and was out for the game.
Both scored touchdowns on drives they converted fourth downs with Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis keeping his riverboat gambling ways that began last week in Los Angeles. With a 7-0 lead and 10 minutes left in the half Mixon bulled in from the 1 grinding through the middle on fourth down behind six offensive linemen and defensive- end-turned fullback Sam Hubbard. On the previous play, the inexhaustible Hubbard, who had two sacks and a forced fumble in the half, nearly had a touchdown catch. He was open in the end zone, but old friend Frostee Rucker at right end leaped and deflected the ball.
Mixon made it all possible a few snaps earlier with the Bengals' longest run of the season, a 47-yarder he broke up the middle to the outside and on his way he froze safety Karl Joseph. Quarterback Jeff Driskel kept the drive alive with a scramble for a first down on third-and-eight and that's how his first half went. He did more damage moving than passing in a half he hit just eight of 19 throws for 57 yards on a 45.3 passer rating. Mixon finished the half with 84 yards on 15 carries, leaving him 50 yards shy of 1,000.
On the same drive became the first non-A.J. Green receiver to go over 1,000 yards since Chad Johnson, Boyd scored on a third-and-seven slant for a seven-yard touchdown pass that gave the Bengals a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter and then promptly gave a nod to Johnson with a celebratory river dance.
The drive was all Boyd. On fourth-and-2 at the Raiders 37, he made a classic TB-conversion on a slant and hung on to a missile from Driskel in between linebacker Marquel Lee and cornerback Gareon Conley. He then went over 1,000 when he deked cornerback Rashaan Melvin when he broke off a streak over the middle for a 21-yard gain. After Driskel missed a wide-open Mixon in the flat on second-and-goal, he went back to Boyd on another slant as Boyd knifed inside Conley to hold on for his team-leading seventh receiving touchdown.
The 45-yard touchdown drive came courtesy of Hubbard, the rookie the Raiders just couldn't block early on with their vaunted rookie tackles. On one third down he beat first-round rookie left tackle Kolton Miller to hit Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to force a fumble recovered by left end Carlos Dunlap. The Bengals couldn't convert on that turnover, but on the next third down Hubbard lined up over the right side and penetrated far enough to hit Carr's arm for an incompletion to set up the first touchdown drive.
Up 14-0 the Bengals got their second turnover of the half almost right away when middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson forced running back Jalen Richard's fumble recovered by cornerback Darqueze Dennard at the Oakland 34 and that turned into Randy Bullock's 34-yard field goal with 6:41 left in the half.
Bullock's other field goal came with 2:09 left in the first half, this one from 38, and it came on Alex Erickson's 41-yard kick return, a facemask on the play, and then a taunting call the Raiders defensive end Arden Key. Driskel had Boyd wide open on third down breaking out of his route to the outside, but he missed him with defensive tackle Maurice Hurst generating heat inside.
The Raiders made one play with the Bengals doing a nice job on Carr, holding him to 11 of 23 for 134 yards. Linebacker Nick Vigil missed the tackle on tight end Darren Waller's first catch of the season at around the line of scrimmage and it turned into a 44-yard play that set up Oakland's only score of the half on Carr's one-yard TD flip.
The Bengals linebackers corps took another hit when WILL backer Jordan Evans went out with an ankle injury and rookie Malik Jefferson and veteran Vincent Rey got some run.
Images from week 15 at Paul Brown Stadium as the Bengals host the Oakland Raiders.
Wide receiver Cody Core hands to the face on the opening kickoff wiped away safety Clayton Fejedelem's tackle inside the 20 and safety Shawn Williams dropped the easiest interception when Carr threw behind wide receiver Jordy Nelson over the middle. Talk about a rarity. Carr came into the game with the fourth best touchdown-to-interception ratio in history among quarterbacks with at least 2,000 passes. And he hadn't thrown an interception in the last eight games.
The Bengals offense really struggled early. Another false start by right guard Alex Redmond blew up the first series and negated Mixon's eight-yard rumble and on the first snap of the next series Driskel underthrew wide receiver John Ross beating his man on a streak down the middle and safety Erik Harris picked it off at the Oakland.
With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green out for the second straight game, running back Giovani Bernard and left guard Clint Boling were the captains.