Quarterback Joe Burrow (#9) of the Cincinnati Bengals passes in the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 25, 2023. /CFP
The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Los Angeles Rams 19-16 at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Monday, securing their first win of the 2023 National Football League regular season after a 0-2 start.
Both sides struggled on the offensive end during most time of the game. The first touchdown, scored by the Bengals, didn't come until the third quarter. The two quarterbacks (QBs), Joe Burrow on the Bengals' side and Matthew Stafford on the Rams' side, both worked hard in trying to throw deep, but failed to achieve what they wanted for different reasons.
The Bengals' offensive line was vulnerable in front of defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who had two QB hits, two tackles and one sack. His aggressive defense left Burrow not much time to think or observe carefully, but only to throw the ball quickly. Moreover, Burrow was apparently still held back by his calf injury, which affected his long passes.
Defensive end Trey Hendrickson (top) of the Cincinnati Bengals sacks quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams in the game at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 25, 2023. /CFP
The Rams' offensive line was even more disappointing than their Bengals' counterpart as Stafford was sacked six times which cost his side 48 yards. Meanwhile, without Cooper Kupp, the team had no reliable option but Puka Nacua in the wide receiver position. As a result, they lacked consistency on the offensive end, missing 10 of their 11 third downs.
"It's just execution when it comes down to that," Stafford said. "Obviously, put ourselves in some tough spots, had some third-and-extra-longs, didn't do a good enough job there. Throwing and catching is the name of the game on third down. We didn't do that well enough."
Compared with the Rams, the Bengals had more and better receiving resources, especially in Ja'Marr Chase. He was targeted 15 times and caught the ball 12 times. Three of his catches happened in the team's touchdown drive in the third quarter, all on the third downs for 33 yards before running back Joe Mixon rushed 14 yards to score a touchdown for the Bengals to lead 13-9.
Wide Receiver Ja'Marr Chase (#1) of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass in the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 25, 2023. /CFP
"I was like, 'You got nuts, boy. I didn't want you to play,'" Chase said after the game. "That just shows that Joe's hardheaded. But he's a football player, man. You can't knock him from being tough like that. They don't make too many quarterbacks tough like that."
Kicker Evan McPherson made another two field goals later in the game to extend the Bengals' lead to 10 points when there were less than eight minutes left. Though Stafford finally connected with wide receiver Tutu Atwell in front of the end zone to score a touchdown, it came too late to change anything.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts (L) of the Philadelphia Eagles passes in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, September 25, 2023. /CFP
In the other game on Monday, the Philadelphia Eagles dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25-11 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, claiming their second win of the season.
The Eagles' QB Jalen Hurts passed 27-for-37 to generate 277 yards and one touchdown, but with two interceptions. He rushed one touchdown as well. Though his performance was hardly excellent, Hurts' teammates of the defensive group made the Buccaneers' QB Baker Mayfield look even more awkward. He only completed 15 of his 25 passes for only 146 yards and one touchdown with one interception.