Joe Mixon rushed for a career-high 129 yards and two touchdowns as the Bengals snapped a five-game losing streak with a 30-16 victory over the Oakland Raiders in Sunday's Paul Brown Stadium finale.
Mixon, who racked up 129 yards on a career-high 27 carries to leave him five yards shy of 1,000, took a pitch right, negotiated blocks by right tackle Bobby Hart, tight end Matt Lengel and wide receiver John Ross. Then it was left for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins to wreck whatever hopes the Raiders had with sacks on back-to-snaps, giving Atkins a hat trick in the fourth quarter and the third double-digit season sack of his career.
And they need it all.
With freshly-minted 1,000-yard wide receiver Tyler Boyd lost for the day with a knee injury late in the first half and the Bengals leading, 20-7, the Cincinnati offense had seemingly shriveled up and died with no Boyd, A.J. Green, Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert.
At that point old friend Paul Guenther, now calling the defensive plays for the Raiders, was coming off a first half he had held quarterback Jeff Driskel to a 45 passer rating and knew pretty much all he had to do was keep running backs Joe Mixon and Giovani Benard in check. Mixon, who had 86 yards on his first 14 carries, had 96 yards on his 19th carry late in the third quarter when he came off the field shaken up. Going into the fourth quarter Driskel had completed just 11 of 28 passes for 72 yards and the Raiders were right there at 20-13.
But the Bengals didn't die. They rose up. Early in the fourth quarter (and Mixon back in the game), just after left guard Clint Boling had been called for a hold to set up second-and-17, Driskel hit tight end C.J. Uzomah down the seam for 27 yards. Then on third-and-eight he got 22 more on third-and-eight when he hit Bernard racing underneath the middle and then turning it up after the catch.
But inside the 10 on third down, Driskel couldn't cash a boot-leg pass. Just before he went out on the right sideline, he tried to get it to wide receiver John Ross on a sideline route in the end zone and it looked like had it on his thigh before losing it. Randy Bullock's 23-yard field goal put it back to 23-13 with 10:45 left on the game.
The Raiders scored the first time they had the ball in the second half with the big play running back Jalen Richard' s 32-yard catch off a loft job by Carr when he spotted the mismatch against middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson down the sideline. Daniel Carlson's 50-yard field goal with 6:27 left in the third quarter finished off the drive to cut it to 20-10.
The Raiders made it 20-13 when the Bengals blew a coverage and wide receiver Jordy Nelson was wide open for a 44-yard play that put Oakland on the Bengals 7. Two false starts aided the Bengals to set up another field goal.
Boyd cashing his first 1,000-yard season and Mixon drawing ever closer with Sunday's 84-yard first half, the Bengals turned over the Raiders twice in taking that 20-7 half-time lead.
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.
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 Chad 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 suppling some 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.
Images from week 15 at Paul Brown Stadium as the Bengals host the Oakland Raiders.
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.
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.