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Tyler Boyd's Stat Twin T.J. Houshmandzadeh Cheers His Record Book Route 

WR Tyler Boyd catches the ball during practice at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Wednesday, May 31 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
WR Tyler Boyd catches the ball during practice at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Wednesday, May 31 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

As he waved Tee Higgins over to the scale, Tyler Boyd stepped on with a told-you-so 206 pounds. That puts him in fighting trim for an eighth Bengals season that should leave him among the franchise's heavyweight wide receivers.

"I play at 204, 205, so I'm good," said Boyd Wednesday, realizing there are weightier historical numbers. "Got to be in the top ten by now."

Make that No. 1 if you count the 30-year-old catch percentage stat of Pro Football Reference, which is catches divided by targets. At 68.1 for his career, Boyd leads everyone from Chad Johnson to A.J. Green, although his buddies Higgins (65.7) and Ja'Marr Chase (64.1) are coming after him.

Indeed, Higgins is tied for second place in Bengals all-time catch percentage with Boyd's statistical twin from the first decade of this century, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who also played eight seasons in Cincinnati.

If Boyd averages what he's done the last two seasons in the slot between 1,000-yard receivers Chase and Higgins, his 63 catches for 795 yards put him into fourth place on the club's all-time list with 509 catches, two more than Houshmandzadeh's 507, and seventh in yards with 6,128, shooting past Houshmandzadeh (5,782), Darnay Scott (5,975) and six shy of Eddie Brown.

Throw in Boyd's 12 yards per catch and 29 touchdowns and Houshmandzadeh's 11.4 yards per and 37 touchdowns and "Damn near identical. I've always liked Tyler Boyd. He's never really received the credit he deserves. That happens when you play in the slot," said Houshmandzadeh, who knows something about going under the radar.

Tyler Reliability Boyd.

He took the practice field this week for the first time this spring in the Bengals' voluntary phase and since it's the last year of his deal it has given him a moment to reflect on being the longest-serving Bengal of the two-time AFC North champs.

When he arrived in the second round of the 2016 draft, that honor belonged to left tackle Andrew Whitworth and nose tackle Domata Peko and he's about to match Houshmandzadeh's career that began in the first draft at Paycor Stadium in 2001.

It would seem the numbers match the playing style because the 6-2 Boyd has sifted through the archives to watch the 6-2, 200-pound Houshmandzadeh.

"The thing with me and T.J. is our understanding of football," Boyd said. "We understand how to run routes in certain coverages. We're aware of pre-snap, post-snap looks, knowing where to be and where the quarterback wants us to be. Knowing how to maneuver through the window. That probably is our best attribute that we both have. He knows how to get through the windows, he knows how to use his releases to get to the spot where I know Joe (Burrow) wants me and expects me to be. If I'm not where he thinks I'm going to be, he's not going to throw it there."

Houshmandzadeh likes the stat. It doesn't matter Chad Johnson and A.J. Green had career marks in the 50s. He says they're still the Bengals greatest receivers with Isaac Curtis also in the conversation, a Bengals Ring of Honor member who retired eight years before the advent of catch percentage.

But …

"I like it. Being able to make the most of your opportunities," Houshmandzadeh said. "I really do think that matters. People keep that stat for a reason."

In the 2020s, a decade Boyd has dropped the ball just five times, he has the fourth-best catch percentage of wide receivers with at least 286 targets. At 71.3, he trails only Chris Godwin (75.6), the incomparable Cooper Kupp (75.5), and Tyler Lockett (72.2).

"It not only means you're not dropping the ball," Houshmandzadeh said, "it means you're getting open."

And in Bengals history, Boyd is the only wide receiver with at least 82 targets who has cracked 70 percent in a season and he's done it four times with 71.8 the record in 2020, 71.3 in 2021, 70.7 last season and 70.4 in 2018. Houshmandzadeh is next with a 68.2 in a 2006 season he converted on 90 catches.

"Impressive," Houshmandzadeh said. "That makes a coach feel comfortable. When he calls his number, there's a good chance it's going to be a catch. Good chance. If it keeps the chains moving, it doesn't matter."

Which, in the end, is how Boyd wants to be remembered if this is his last season in stripes. He hopes it's not and that he can keep moving up the list, but that's not how he thinks. Maybe the last time he looked at the Bengals all-time receiving stats, he says, is last season. He turns 29 on Nov. 15, the day before they play in Baltimore, a scene of the play that revived his career in 2017. Only 11 Bengals wide receivers have caught a ball at age 30 and beyond.

"I don't worry about all that. I just play my game. Get the yards I've got to get and do what I can to help the team," Boyd said. "They're great players. I might not amount to the things they've done, but we're all different players. My best attribute is being reliable in my catches. I rarely drop anything. I think that's going to be the most remembered. I'm the most (reliable) catch player that's probably ever been here."

Houshmandzadeh both loves and hates the tag, "Reliable." He calls himself "very reliable,' as a wide receiver. But he doesn't want Boyd to sell himself short.

And this was before he found out Boyd said on Tuesday he felt the Bengals would have beaten the Chiefs in the AFC Championship if he didn't get hurt.

"To me, you say 'Reliable,' and that doesn't give him enough credit," Houshmandzadeh said. "It kind of discredits him. It's a putdown. He's better than reliable. He's a good receiver. He knows how to run good routes. He's got really good size. If he doesn't get hurt, the Bengals go to the Super Bowl again.

"He was part of the turnaround. He was part of the good, the bad and now this run. I like him a lot. He doesn't get the credit he deserves."

The numbers are deserving. Now he's looking to catch a Super Bowl.

"I've made a lot of catches. Like the one-hander here against Atlanta last year," said Boyd, who would rather make catches than rate them. "But what matters is making a play that helps us win."