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Setting The Scene: Rams at Bengals for Monday Night Football

WR Trenton Irwin runs the ball during the Rams-Bengals preseason game on August 29, 2022.
WR Trenton Irwin runs the ball during the Rams-Bengals preseason game on August 29, 2022.

The Series:

The Bengals lead 8-6 overall in regular season and have won three of the past four regular-season meetings. The teams also met in Super Bowl LVI after the 2021 season, with the Rams winning 23-20.

The two teams have played two consecutive games at "neutral" sites, as the Rams also won the most recent regular-season meeting 24-10 in 2019 at Wembley Stadium in London. While the AFC representative and thus Cincinnati was considered to be the home team for Super Bowl LVI, it was played in the Rams' home venue of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

This week's game will mark the Bengals' third contest against the second Los Angeles edition of the Rams. The Bengals were 5-2 against the first Los Angeles edition of the Rams and were 2-3 against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams franchise originally played in Cleveland from 1936-45, in L.A. from '46-94, and then in St. Louis from '95-2015. They returned to L.A. in 2016.

Setting The Scene:

The Bengals look to claim their first win of the young season when they host the Los Angeles Rams at Paycor Stadium on Monday Night Football.

WEEK 3 · Mon 09/25 · 8:15 PM EDT


Los Angeles Rams

Paycor Stadium

Cincinnati is 0-2 after dropping a pair of contests to AFC North Division foes in Cleveland and Baltimore. The Bengals trailed the Ravens by 10 twice in the second half in Week 2, and each time the offense put together extended scoring drives to claw back into the game. WR Tee Higgins caught his second TD of the afternoon with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter, but that ended up being the last time Cincinnati possessed the ball as Ravens QB Lamar Jackson converted a third-and-three to help bleed out the remaining clock.

Despite opening the season with consecutive losses, Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor remains encouraged that his team will not only respond with a stronger performance on Monday night, but will benefit from the early adversity over the next three months of games.

"The beauty of this team is we know it's a 17-game season," Taylor said. "There's no overreaction on our end. We've got to be prepared for it outside of our locker room, which is natural. But we're in a very difficult division. You'd have loved to come out of it 2-0 — it was a great opportunity. This is exactly where we were last year. This team, I think, is only going to continue to get better with every game that passes. When you stumble early, you've just got to learn from it. So many years in the past, we've learned from losses early in the season that have really propelled us in October, November and December. This will be no different, I'm very confident in that."

The Bengals began the 2022 campaign with back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas, before rattling off 12 wins in their final 14 regular-season contests — including a team-record-tying eight straight to close out the regularseason schedule. They captured a second consecutive AFC North title in the process, and rode that momentum to two postseason wins to earn a second straight berth in the AFC Championship.  And while fourth-year QB Joe Burrow acknowledged that this season's start is not what a team with title aspirations had envisioned, he also is optimistic the Bengals will chart a similar path in 2023

"We've done it before," Burrow said. "Obviously, you don't want to start 0-2. It's not what we were planning on, not what you want to do at all. But we're going to bounce back. That's what we do, that's all there is to it."

The Bengals' heralded air attack was limited through the first six quarters, totaling just 102 net passing yards in that time, but Burrow and his talented WR corps were able to find a rhythm in the second half against Baltimore. He threw for 187 yards in the half — surpassing 12,000 career passing yards while doing so — and led three drives that each traveled over 60 yards. The first ended with an INT by Ravens S Geno Stone at the goal line, marking Cincinnati's first turnover of the year, but the offense then responded with possessions of 13 and 16 plays that each resulted in Burrow TD passes to WR Tee Higgins.

Higgins, who was held to zero catches in a rainy season opener at Cleveland, reverted to his usual high production with eight receptions for 89 yards in Week 2. Slot receiver Tyler Boyd added six catches for 52 yards, including a key conversion on fourth down during a fourth quarter scoring drive, and HB Joe Mixon totaled 95 yards from scrimmage to help spark the offense.

I thought our guys responded really well," said Taylor on the contributions from skill position players. "Last week was a challenging week for receivers, when you play in the rain like that and things don't go your way and you're not getting a lot of opportunities with the way the game got away from us. I thought our guys did a great job this week just being ready for their number to be called and stepping up when it did."

As the Bengals aim to build on the second-half momentum from Week 2, they do so this Monday in a rematch of Super Bowl LVI against the Rams. Cincinnati, playing in its third all-time appearance in the big game, fell 23-20 to Los Angeles at SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13, 2022. And while each roster around the NFL is altered year-to-year, the Bengals will face several familiar faces from that Super Bowl matchup, including QB Matthew Stafford and DT Aaron Donald.

The Rams also kicked off their season with two games against divisional rivals and enter Monday night with a 1-1 record. Los Angeles earned a 30-13 road win at Seattle in the season opener, then was defeated 30-23 by San Francisco at home last week.

Monday night's game has been circled by Cincinnati fans since the schedule was released, as it includes the team's annual Ring of Honor induction ceremony as well as the return of the "White Bengal" helmet. Entering the Bengals Ring of Honor at halftime will be former QB Boomer Esiason and WR Chad Johnson, two of the most prolific players in team history who also endeared themselves to fans with charismatic personalities. The "White Bengal" helmet, unveiled prior to last season and worn twice in 2022, will be accentuated by white field logos and end zones at Paycor Stadium, as well as a "White Out" crowd.