LAS VEGAS _ Quarterback Joe Burrow never got the big play on Sunday. His longest pass went for 17 yards. But he could have cared less.
"That was fun. We knew exactly what kind of game it was going to be and that's exactly the way it played out," said Burrow after the Bengals' 32-13 win over the Raiders vaulted them deeper into the AFC playoff chase. "Eventually the dam broke."
Burrow, who was 20 of 29 for a career-low 148 yards and one huge touchdown, had played a Gus Bradley defense and he knew what he had to do.
"You have be patient. You can't get in third and long or they unleash (the rush)," Burrow said.
With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Burrow made the throw he had to make with 5:03 left in the game on third down from, the six. Naturally it was to old friend Ja'Marr Chase, running a corner route behind two defenders and Burrow put it right there. Burrow saw they were in a deep Tampa 2 zone and although he had never run that play against that style of defense, no problem.
It was Chase's eighth touchdown, drawing him within one of Isaac Curtis' Bengals rookie record set 48 years ago. And it was quite a seven-minute clock-draining answer to the Raiders cutting the lead to 16-13 with less than a dozen minutes left.
"The defense played great. We didn't force too many (long passes) and we just tried to stay on schedule," Burrow said. "We knew with the defense playing like that the dam would break."
MIXON DICES IT UP: The name of the dam was running back Joe Mixon, who offered a monstrous 123-yard game on 30 carries despite scrounging for just 26 yards in a very rough first half he had three negative runs totaling minus six yards.. And he had carried a total of 39 times in the three previous games.
Things got a lot easier when Mixon said he changed his cleats in the third quarter after slipping on the grass, so he went with shoes that had the longer spikes.
"One thing that kept me going on was I know they were counting on me to make a big play," Mixon said. "Sometimes it gets frustrating (not getting the ball), but we've got a lot of weapons. ... One thing about these guys is they come to work.
Mixon was running so hard that he jacked Chase on one of his touchdown runs.
"If you get in Joe's lane, you take one for the team," said wide receiver Tyler Boyd. "He gets better as the game goes ... The guy I'm blocking, he wanted me to stay on him blocking so he doesn't have to tackle him. Guys out there (opponents) are saying he's running hard. Guys don't want to tackle him. It's stealing now at that point."
"Sorry, little bro," he said of his collision with Chase.
From blowing up one of his receivers on a touchdown run to his dice-throwing celebration, Mixon had a great day in the Bengals' first game ever on the Vegas strip.
"I came up with it during Thursday's practice," Mixon said. "I said, 'Hey, we're going to Vegas, we've got to come up with something."
But who ever scored first would roll 'and the rest of us would split the pot."
Boyd, who was on the post-game podium before Mixon, caught his eye when Boyd was asked what the pot was. Clearly he was feeling no ill effects from the cramps that ended his game a few minutes early.
"Ahh… $50 million, right? Or whatever they gave you," said Boyd, referencing Mixon's $50 million extension last year.
And on Sunday he was worth every penny. He's back on a 1,290-yard pace after his first 100-yard game since the opener.
GAME BALLS: Taylor kept going with turnovers when it came to giving out the game balls, so all three guys who came up with the fourth-quarter turnovers got one. Cornerback Eli Apple for his interception, defensive end Sam Hubbard for his fumble recovery and defensive end Trey Hendrickson for forcing it with his 9.5th sack and one in each of the last six games. Mixon got one for hanging in even though he was thrown for a loss on a handful of them. And punter Kevin Huber got one for playing in his 200th game.
"I can't imagine it. What a credit to him," said Taylor, who sent Huber out as the only game captain to start the game.
Tough room. Rookie kicker Evan McPherson didn't get one despite tying an NFL record with three field goals of at least 50 yards (50, 53 and 54).
"it's tough being a head coach and giving out game balls. It's the hardest part of my job," Taylor said.
FAKE FLICKER: Burrow had a first Sunday. In the third quarter he pulled off a great fake of a flea flicker to Mixon. Burrow handed off to Mixon and Mixon straightened, turned and Burrow acted like Mixon tossed it back to him. He should have got an Oscar for it and Mixon even seemed surprised they bit so hard and he slipped after getting eight yards.
"Joe was mad about that," said Burrow after his first ever fake flea flicker.
APPLE OF CARR's EYE: That pick of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had to feel good for Apple after getting picked on for two weeks in the wake of his part in the 60-yard TD bomb against Cleveland. He read the quotes last week by cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, slot cornerback Mike Hilton and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo saying he wasn't the only one at fault.
"I read the quarterback. We were in Cover Two and I got to my zone and he threw it right to me," Apple said. "It definitely means a lot. Lou is someone I respect greatly. And I just want to go out there and play my hardest for him. "