NASHVILLE — It’s time to be very worried about the Bengals.
Through four weeks, they aren’t who we thought they were. Sunday was a thorough embarrassment put forth by the men in Stripes.
Derrick Henry ran through the Bengals defense for 122 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown as Tennessee blew out the Bengals, 27-3, at Nissan Stadium. The Bengals totaled a measly 211 yards on the hot afternoon and looked totally outclassed on both sides of the ball.
Adding salt to the wound was a rib injury to Tee Higgins in the first half that knocked him out for the game. Starting cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt left in concussion protocol in the third quarter and did not return.
The Titans scored 21 points in the second quarter to take a 24-3 halftime lead.
The Titans then ran off over ten minutes on a drive to open the second half and capped it with a field goal to make it 27-3. The Bengals drove past midfield but Joe Burrow was strip-sacked and the Titans recovered. Game over.
One week after gaining just six first downs, the Titans rebounded with a balanced attack against a Bengals defense that wilted in the 85-degree heat with missed tackles and blown assignments.
But in truth the Titans put this game away with a gimmick TD when Henry took a snap in the wildcat and tossed a 2-yard TD jump pass to Josh Whyle of the Titans with 10 seconds left in the second quarter.
It's getting Whyle in here
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 1, 2023
Already up, 24-3, the Titans opened the third quarter with a 15-play drive that consumed over 10 minutes of the clock, aided by Dax Hill’s unsportsmanlike conduct call on third down when it appeared the Bengals’ defense was ready to get off the field on a three-and-out. Nick Folk’s second field goal put Tennessee up, 27-3.
The Bengals were off to a promising start when Joe Burrow called tails and won the toss. The Bengals took the ball and drove right down the field. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins each had two catches for 26 and 19 yards respectively.
The Bengals drove to the Titans 10 but the Bengals couldn’t punch it in. Additionally, Burrow was lucky he didn’t get picked on second down when Amani Hooker stepped in front of Higgins and nearly picked off a pass that could’ve resulted in a pick-6 for Tennessee.
The Bengals ran it with Mixon on the next play down to the Titans 3 and had to settle for a 21-yard Evan McPherson field goal. Mixon was a force in the first quarter, running it five times for 33 yards for a 6.6 yard average.
Derrick Henry was a force for Tennessee on their first drive, carrying it six times but only for 21 yards. He had one run of 11 yards and just 10 on the other five. The Titans converted a fourth down as Tennessee moved to the Cincinnati 24. But a split sack from BJ Hill and Trey Hendrickson pushed the ball back to the 35 and forced the Titans to settle for a 53-yard Nick Folk field goal.
The Titans started bringing more pressure in the second quarter and got to Joe Burrow, including a sack and two quarterback hits and landed Burrow flat on his back.
As sharp as the Bengals offense looked on the first drive, amassing 71 yards, it was abysmal for the rest of the half.
The Bengals offense collapsed and the Titans took full advantage with drives of 78 and 73 yards. The Bengals were gashed by play action passes from Ryan Tannehill and runs from Derrick Henry, including a 29-yard run in which he bounced off Germaine Pratt and ran into the end zone for a 17-3 Tennessee lead with 3:58 lead left in the second quarter.