Going into Sunday’s Divisional Round game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, one of the biggest storylines was the concern about the Bengals offensive line. Cincinnati entered the game without three starters—left tackle Jonah Williams, right guard Alex Cappa and right tackle La’el Collins—in the lineup. To make matters worse, starting center Ted Karras suffered a knee injury in the first half of the game, forcing him to wear a brace the rest of the way.
But it was the Bills offensive line that was the biggest liability on their home field Sunday afternoon, as Buffalo was humbled by the Bengals in a shocking 27-10 loss.
Josh Allen was on the run all day, and by the time the fourth quarter had arrived, the Bills quarterback was bleeding through his long-sleeve shirt and favoring his shoulder. The Bengals defensive line not only won their matchups, but Cincinnati found effective ways to disguise their blitz and keep the Bills offensive line guessing. In total, the Bills allowed eight quarterback hits on the day.
Buffalo didn’t have any better luck in the ground game. Running backs Devin Singletary and James Cook combined for just 38 yards on 11 carries (3.45 yards per carry). Even Allen—one of most dangerous rushing quarterbacks in the league—managed just 26 yards on eight carries. Buffalo’s longest run of the day was 8 yards.
Meanwhile, the Bengals offensive line made Joe Burrow’s day a breeze. Burrow was hit just three times on 37 dropbacks and mostly had extremely clean pockets to deliver 242 passing yards and two touchdowns on the day. Of course, it also helps that the Bengals have designed an offense that allows Burrow to get rid of the ball quickly, but even on longer-developing plays, the Bills pass rush was MIA.
Even more impressive, however, was the Bengals run game.
Why has the Bengals rush game been so good today? Cincinnati averaging 4.3 yards per rush before contact today, which would be its best of the season (via @ESPNStatsInfo)
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) January 22, 2023
Joe Mixon had clean lanes to rush through for all four quarters. Even when the Bills knew the Bengals were just trying to run out the clock late in the fourth quarter, they couldn’t do anything to stop them. Take away the two victory kneel downs, and the Bengals rushed for 173 yards on 32 carries, or a dominating 5.4 yards-per-carry. The Bills had only given up more rushing yards in three games this season.
Did we mention that Bengals left tackle Jackson Carman was making his first career start in this game?
The Bengals have superstars like Burrow, Mixon and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. All three of those guys played a big part in Cincinnati’s win on Sunday. However, give Carman, Max Scharping, and Hakeem Adeniji big credit for stepping in on the offensive line and proving the moment wasn’t too big for them.