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Joe Mixon's Run Puts Him Among Bengals Greats

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With teammates and fans calling him a Cincinnati legend, Bengals all-time postseason rushing leader Joe Mixon's busy and bountiful run at Paycor Stadium ended Wednesday when the club traded him to the Texans on the first day of the NFL's new year.

Brandishing a bubbly energy that made him a captain and a fan favorite, Mixon had a five-touchdown game and a Super Bowl touchdown pass before concluding his Bengals career with a fourth 1,000-yard rushing season in 2023.

"That's what he's known for. The juice that he brings on the daily and how hard he works," says left tackle Orlando Brown, Jr., who has known him since they were 17-year-olds at Oklahoma. "One of the greater Bengals in history, I would imagine. Definitely. That speaks to his abilities."

Even though he played just one season with Mixon here, Brown nailed it.

When the dust clears after seven seasons, 97 games, and seven more in the playoffs, Mixon leaves as one of three Bengals to rush for 6,000 yards with 6,412, 35 shy of second-place James Brooks on the club's all-time rushing list. Only all-time rusher Corey Dillon had more 1,000-yard seasons as a Bengal than Mixon's four.

A second-round pick in 2017 out of Oklahoma, Mixon, who turns 28 the week training camp begins, has annexed the Bengals record book in a bevy of areas patrolled by so many of the club's signature big backs with whom he now belongs.

He set the record for receptions by a running back with 60 in 2022 while scoring a club-record five touchdowns that season during a win against the Panthers in a game he became the third player in the Super Bowl era with at least four rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown in a game.

"I think he's a Cincinnati legend," saiys left end Sam Hubbard, the Cincinnati Kid himself, now officially the longest-tenured Bengal as the new year dawns.

"We went through the tough times in the early part of our careers and built the thing from the ground up and went to the Super Bowl and changed the culture and Joe was a big part of that."

The nostalgia of those early days drives Hubbard back to a Dec. 16, 2018 Paycor win over the Raiders during his rookie year. Even then, he and Mixon sensed the transitional moment even though no one knew at the time it was the last of head coach Marvin Lewis' club-record 131 victories.

While Mixon ripped off a 47-yard run as part of his 123-yard, two-touchdown day, Hubbard came off the bench for two sacks and a tackle for loss in the 30-16 win.

Three years later, Hubbard ended regulation of the AFC title game when he put the genie back in the bottle with back-to-back sacks of Patrick Mahomes before Mixon zapped   overtime to win a Super Bowl berth.

"We still talk about it," Hubbard says of the '18 game. "He was the spark for the offense and I had two sacks and was the spark for the defense and we realized at that moment this could be our team and our future and we could take it where we wanted to go and every day we tried to bring the energy despite what was going on around us. Never accept losing."

The 6-2, 222-pound Mixon complemented that big-back burst with Atomic clock ball security and leaves the Bengals with the NFL's longest active regular-season streak without a fumble by a running back.

"As reliable as they come," Hubbard says.

According to Elias, Mixon has gone 661 straight touches without a fumble during a streak encompassing 35 regular-season games and 763 days. And seven more games in the playoffs. His last of six career fumbles came on Dec. 5, 2021 against the Chargers at Paycor Stadium.

But Mixon saved his best for the playoffs.

"There are many iconic moments and runs when he stepped up and made some stuff happen when we needed it the most," Hubbard says.

In the 2021 AFC title game in Kansas City, he lugged the Bengals into the Super Bowl during their winning drive in overtime when he carried five times for 27 yards. Two weeks later he threw a six-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tee Higgins to cut the Rams lead to 13-10 in the Super Bowl. The next year in the AFC Divisional he navigated a snowy field in Buffalo for 105 yards on 20 carries to key a 27-10 win.

"He never changed. Same guy," Brown says. "One of the best teammates I've ever been around."

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