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Week 11 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 20, Denver Broncos 17

What you need to know

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals were able to pull off the win despite being dominated in time of possession for the third straight week and managing just 190 total yards of offense. Short fields and a few clutch plays in the passing game were enough to get the victory. Andy Dalton played well and the pass protection was better than expected. Joe Mixon was the clear workhorse back with 22 touches, but the run game was a mess again. The Bengals averaged under 2.0 yards per carry.

Denver Broncos

Denver cut tight end AJ Derby last week due to a shoulder injury, and Jeff Heuerman missed week 11 with an injury. Austin Traylor was promoted from the practice squad to hold down tight end duties with starter Virgil Green. Also inactive for the Broncos was QB Trevor Siemian, WR Isaiah McKenzie, and tackle Cyrus Kouandijo. Cincinnati blocked a 61 yard field goal attempt by the Broncos just before halftime. Denver announced Monday that it had fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and promoted QB coach Bill Musgrave to the position.

Cincinnati Bengals

QB Andy Dalton, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 25 - 154 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 4 - 0
Dalton’s first touchdown was from 1-yard out and came off of a play action fake that allowed Tyler Kroft to get wide open in the end zone. Dalton led a 75-yard touchdown drive midway through the first half that he capped off with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Alex Erickson. Erickson got behind the defender deep down the left sideline and Dalton floated it perfectly out in front of him. Dalton hit A.J. Green for an 18-yard touchdown on a back shoulder fade. It was a solid overall game for Dalton. He had some passes tipped at the line and pressure up the middle caused some throwaways but the pass protection held up better than expected against the Broncos pass rush. Dalton avoided any costly mistakes and made just enough plays to get the win.

RB Joe Mixon, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 49 - 0, Rec: 2 - 0 - 0 (2 targets)
The touches weren’t a problem for Mixon. Despite the Bengals running just 51 offensive plays, Mixon touched it 22 times. The issue again was the lack of holes to run through and getting hit in the backfield, as Mixon averaged just 2.2 yards per touch. Mixon did come close to an early touchdown. After an early 101-yard interception return set the Bengals up on the Broncos 1-yard line, Mixon had back-to-back carries but was stuffed just shy of the goal line on both attempts. While Mixon’s numbers and yards per carry look dreadful, he actually played pretty well. He was able to generate positive yardage on most runs and kept the Bengals in manageable downs and distances.

RB Giovani Bernard, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - -4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets)
Bernard had a tough game. He was dropped for losses of three and five yards on his first two rushing attempts. The Broncos line was getting too much push for slow developing running plays to the outside. Bernard caught a short dump off over the middle.

WR A.J. Green, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 50 - 1 (9 targets)
Green was having a quiet day until his fourth quarter touchdown. The Broncos crowded the line on 3rd-and-2, which left Green with a rare 1-on-1 opportunity outside. He ran a simple go route and got behind Bradley Roby. Dalton put the ball high and on Green’s back shoulder, allowing him to go up and make the game-winning 18-yard touchdown catch. Green drew a key pass interference penalty in the final minutes that changed field position and allowed the Bengals to bleed the clock late.

WR Brandon LaFell, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (5 targets)
LaFell very nearly scored a 64-yard touchdown. He caught a deep crossing route and was able to stay on his feet despite a big hit and keep his balance. He wasn’t quite able to keep his foot off of the sideline on the 29-yard reception. LaFell was in the clear for the touchdown if his foot wouldn’t have clipped the line. LaFell made a nice 3rd-down catch and run on a slant for a 6-yard gain, powering through a tackler to get past the sticks.

WR Alex Erickson, 11 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 42 - 1 (2 targets)
Erickson had single coverage and ran past Bradley Roby to get open deep for a 29-yard touchdown catch. Erickson also caught a key 3rd-down slant pass to keep the drive alive and setup the Bengals game-winning touchdown pass a few plays later. Erickson has consistently made plays when given the opportunity and is deserving of more looks in future weeks in an offense starved for playmakers.

TE Tyler Kroft, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 12 - 1 (3 targets)
The Bengals went to a goal line formation on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line and ran a play-action fake to Joe Mixon running right. The Broncos bit, Kroft slipped out on the backside, and was wide open for an easy touchdown catch. Kroft injured his right hand and left the game temporarily. He returned later with a cast on and had a drop. His status for next week may be in question for a prime matchup with the Browns.

Denver Broncos

QB Brock Osweiler, 81 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 42 - 254 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 24 - 0
Osweiler was terrible in the first half, throwing one interception and racking up less than a hundred yards with no touchdowns. Oz had a nifty 12 yard scramble to convert 3rd and short in the 1st quarter, setting the Broncos up inside the Cincinnati red zone. Unfortunately, he hit CB Dre Kirkpatrick in the end zone two plays later, leading to a 99 yard INT return and an ensuing Cincinnati touchdown. CJ Anderson tossed the ball back to Osweiler after a handoff for a 3rd quarter flea-flicker, but there was apparently a miscommunication on the play as Osweiler launched the ball to a very empty spot downfield.

Osweiler found a rhythm with Demaryius Thomas in the 4th quarter, hitting him for several passes before capping the drive with a 17 yard touchdown on a beautiful over-the-shoulder fade. Osweiler and the offense got the ball back with just under two minute left in the game, trailing Cincinnati by three points. Osweiler got blown up on 2nd down, leading to 3rd and 17 with less than a minute left, then missed Sanders on a slant route on 4th and short. Osweiler finished the day with three official sacks for 25 yards.

RB Devontae Booker, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 44 - 0, Rec: 5 - 54 - 0 (6 targets)
Booker out-snapped and out-touched CJ Anderson in week 11, carrying the ball 14 times to Anderson's 13 and hauling in 5 receptions on 6 total targets. Neither back was particularly effective on the ground, but Booker did edge Anderson out on a per-carry average, though Anderson scored the only rushing touchdown. Booker moved around the formation as a receiver, splitting out wide for several routes. He caught a slant route from the outside receiver position in a 5WR set in the 2nd quarter. Booker lined up in the backfield and caught a wheel route that he turned up the left sideline for a 21 yard gain in the 3rd quarter. Booker hauled in another out route from the backfield later in the 4th quarter for a short gain, then caught a swing pass and hurdled a defender later in the drive inside the Cincinnati red zone. Booker was targeted one final time on another checkdown from the backfield, picking up 12 yards on a 3rd and 17 as the Broncos desperately tried to mount a comeback with less than two minutes left.

RB C.J. Anderson, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 37 - 1, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (3 targets)
Anderson was slightly out-snapped and out-touched by Devontae Booker for the first time this season. He carried the ball 13 times to Booker's 14, though Anderson did get the lone rushing touchdown. He set himself up for his 3 yard scoring plunge in the 1st quarter with a tackle-breaking 7 yard run right up the middle on the previous play. Booker, however, had a better per-carry average and was a more effective receiver.

Anderson leaked out of the backfield and caught a checkdown pass in the 2nd quarter, barreling down the field after the catch for extra yardage. He hauled in a swing route out of the backfield at the end of the 1st half, running up the sideline and stepping out of bounds to stop the clock for the field goal unit just before halftime. Anderson lost a fumble in the 4th quarter when a diving defender placed his helmet squarely on the ball while tackling him.

RB Jamaal Charles, 4 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 7 - 0
Charles didn't see much action, featuring briefly on a 3rd quarter drive and converting 3rd and 1 on a toss/misdirection play. He carried the ball three times total on the series and then did not see the field again. Charles was not targeted in the passing game and appears to be the odd-man out of the Broncos' backfield rotation.

WR Demaryius Thomas, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 64 - 1 (9 targets)
Thomas was held without a catch in the 1st half against the Bengals. He let an easy catch bounce off his hands on a 1st quarter slant route. Thomas had a step on his defender and was open in the end zone two plays before CJ Anderson's 1st quarter touchdown run, but Osweiler had to scramble away from pressure and missed the throw. Osweiler also misfired on a bubble screen to Thomas later in the 2nd quarter.

DT finally got rolling in the 3rd quarter, hauling in a slant route from the left receiver position for his first catch. Osweiler connected with him four times on the Broncos' 4th quarter scoring drive. He found DT on a skinny post route and a short crossing route two plays later. Thomas hauled in a short swing route from the slot to move Denver into the Cincy red zone, then sealed the drive with a beautiful over-the-shoulder fade route down the left sidelines for a touchdown two plays later.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, 76 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (8 targets)
Hauled in a short slant route on Denver's first offensive drive of the day. Osweiler found Sanders on an out route early in the 2nd for an 8 yard gain, then Sanders disappeared for the rest of the contest. Sanders had a step on his defender on a deep corner route late in the 4th, but Osweiler overthrew him badly. Sanders was targeted on the Broncos last offensive play of the game, a desperate 4th and short with less than a minute left in the game and a 3 point deficit. Osweiler threw the slant route low and a diving Sanders could not come up with it.

WR Bennie Fowler, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 18 - 0 (1 targets)
Fowler lined up in the left slot and ran a short out route in the 1st, spinning away from his first tackler and darting up the sideline for an 18 yard gain. He was not targeted again in the contest.

WR Jordan Taylor, 2 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets)
Taylor saw limited action as a receiver, working into the rotation intermittently. He caught a curl route down the left sideline for a gain of 14 in the 4th quarter. Taylor also returned punts.

WR Cody Latimer, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)
Latimer worked in the rotation at the third receiver spot with Fowler and Taylor. He hauled in a deep comeback route down the right sideline for a gain of 21 on a 3rd and long situation late in the 1st quarter. Latimer had a 2nd quarter reception negated by a holding penalty, and was quiet for the rest of the game.

TE Virgil Green, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (4 targets)
Green failed to capitalize on the absence of tight ends Derby and Heuerman, with recently promoted Austin Traylor doing the majority of the pass-catching from the tight end position. Green let an easy catch bounce off his chest in the 2nd quarter. Oweiler hit him on a short curl route from the left inline position in the 3rd quarter for a gain of 8, then a crossing route later in the 4th for another short gain.

TE Austin Traylor
Traylor saw his first action on offense, working into the tight end rotation with Virgil Green in the absence of AJ Derby and Jeff Heuerman Traylor caught an out route from the inline position in the last minute of the first half, his first career reception. Osweiler hit him on the same route two snaps later for his second reception. Traylor hauled in a deep comeback route down the left seam in the beginning of the 4th quarter. Osweiler targeted him again on the next snap for a short gain on a crossing route. Traylor finished the day ahead of Green in targets, catches, and yards.