On Monday Night Football, the Los Angeles Rams will face the Cincinnati Bengals, looking to capitalize on an injured Joe Burrow.
The Los Angeles Rams will travel to Cincinnati for a repeat of Super Bowl LVI and the second game of a Monday Night Football doubleheader against the Bengals.
The reason is simple: quarterback Joe Burrow has been hindered by a calf issue all season, so much so that his fate for the Week 3 game was in question. So far this season, he has completed 41-of-72 throws for 304 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.
He’ll be back at work on Monday, but everyone in the building knows he’s not fully recovered. Can Aaron Donald, a defensive lineman, knock him off his perch? Putting pressure on Burrow, like the Cleveland Browns did in Week 1, is the simplest way to stress him out. He’s also unlikely to drive the ball downfield, allowing Los Angeles to put an end to an otherwise powerful offensive.
It’s all about maintaining momentum for the Rams’ attack. Through two games, quarterback Matthew Stafford has looked very good, developing synergy with young receivers Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell.
Cincinnati defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is a genius who has already made outstanding quarterbacks seem like shells of themselves. At the very least, his ability to match Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay’s inventive approach will be fascinating.
Stafford’s lone sack of the season, unfortunately for the Rams, may not last long. The offensive line has allowed significantly more pressures than Stafford’s sack count would indicate. They’ll have to improve on their early-season showing against a powerful front seven.
Anything less might send this game crashing to the bottom.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 26, 2023
THE FIRST QUARTER
First Drive of the Bengals: Cincinnati got the opening kickoff.
Tyler Boyd caught Burrow’s first completion on a fast and furious route. On third down, he’d go back to Boyd, who was sitting in the gap in Los Angeles’ zone coverage.
On third-and-3, receiver Charlie Jones fell on a slant against tight man coverage, resulting in an incompletion. On the subsequent fourth down, kicker Evan McPherson missed a 56-yard try.
With 11:26 left in the first quarter, Los Angeles will have the ball.
Stafford completed his first throw of the day to tight end Tyler Higbee on the Rams’ opening drive. The first rush by running back Kyren Williams gained six yards.
Stafford would then find his new best buddy over the middle, receiver Puka Nacua, for a contested grab.
Tutu Atwell’s end-around caught the Bengals off aback, as he rushed into the end zone on a 22-yard sprint. Inside the 10-yard line, he was ruled out of bounds. A sack and two incompletions set up fourth-and-goal, where kicker Brett Maher connected on a 30-yard field goal.
With 8:26 left in the first quarter, the Rams lead 3-0.
Cincinnati’s second possession would be hampered by back-to-back false starts.
On third-and-11, Burrow was forced to check down to Boyd, who was tackled for a four-yard gain. The punt was fielded by Williams at the Rams’ 26-yard line.
Williams opened the Rams’ second drive with a brief rush. Nacua then produced a fantastic one-handed tip to himself for another reception on the following play.
A short pass on third-and-1, on the other hand, would be incomplete. A punt would put the Bengals on their own 21-yard line.
Bengals Third Drive: Cincinnati began this drive with a four-yard completion from the end zone. A Joe Mixon run would set up a third-and-four situation. Burrow’s throw was tipped at the line of scrimmage but was still completed to great receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
He connected with Chase once again on a short throw for another first down.
Burrow and the Bengals behind by a field goal at the conclusion of the first quarter.
THE SECOND QUARTER
Burrow started the second quarter with a fresh set of downs, checking down to tight end Mitchell Wilcox right away.
With 14:16 left in the first half, they’d utilize their first time out to avoid a delay of game penalty. Boyd grabbed another short pass but was flagged for a false start shortly after, putting him on third-and-11. Another Burrow throw was intercepted, necessitating a second McPherson try.
He’d hit the game-tying 49-yard field goal.
With 12:55 left in the first half, the Bengals knotted the score 3-3.
Rams Third Drive: Nacua made a diving grab at the sticks after a bootleg on first down.
Atwell would strike again two plays later, this time beating safety Daxton Hill for a huge gain. Los Angeles was now in the red zone after a 37-yard gain.
Stafford targeted Atwell in the back of the end zone after an incompletion and a Williams rush, but he lost the ball owing to his diminutive size.
With a chip shot field goal, Maher reclaimed the lead.
With 9:49 left in the second quarter, the Rams lead 6-3.
Los Angeles is making it difficult for Cincinnati by making plays on first down. It’s in their benefit to keep them behind the sticks and in drop-back situations.
Chase made a great sideline grab on third-and-10 to move the chains. On the following play, corner Derion Kendrick would intercept a Tee Higgins pass.
Donald made it into the box score after sacking Burrow on third-and-18. Higgins’ third-down catch was insufficient. They had no choice except to punt.
Daxton Hill redeemed himself on second down for the Rams, firing himself out of a cannon to wrap up Williams in the backfield. Higbee would be stopped short of the goal line on fourth down. McVay chose to punt despite being near to middle.
Surprise! It’s the Bengals’ fifth drive! Another fast pass. The Bengals will depend on their playmakers to generate explosive plays from handoffs and simple completions.
Burrow’s first genuine deep shot of the game went out of bounds, prompting another punt. If you have a rambunctious youngster, provide them some warm milk and a reason to watch this offense. They’ll fall asleep quickly.
Stafford was intercepted on the Rams’ fifth drive while attempting a trick shot, decreasing his arm angle to escape a defender.
Sixth Drive of the Bengals: After a… slightly fortunate review, Cincinnati has the ball in a good position to score.
Burrow hit Higgins with a great go route, and Higgins demolished him with a blatant pass interference. It was returned. They returned to it straight away, but Burrow was gone. Burrow tried to hit Chase near the first-down marker on third-and-18 but failed miserably. Another punt, you guessed it. With 2:18 left in the half, Los Angeles will take control.
Sixth Drive of the Rams: Nacua made the Rams’ first reception after the two-minute warning. On the following pass, he’d be targeted, but Stafford’s ball was slightly behind him, resulting in an incompletion.
Hill annihilated Stafford with a well-timed blitz that had little chance of being picked up. He had no idea the young safety was approaching. With 1:24 left in the half, a Williams draw play would set up a punt.
Bengals 7th Drive: A strong punt return moved the Bengals to their own 40-yard line. Burrow is struggling, but on the drive’s first try, he struck Chase near the sticks for a first down.
Ending on a cliff Tanner Hudson made a great up-the-seam grab to put Cincinnati in field goal range. This is not to imply that Burrow will commit a turnover tonight, but these passes are taking their time. An ambitious Rams defensive back may leap one.
Burrow was sacked and forced to spike the ball with no timeouts available, setting up another field goal try. McPherson’s 53-yard field goal attempt was successful. Fortunately, the first half is finished.
HALFTIME: At the end of the first half, the Rams and Bengals are deadlocked 6-6.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) September 26, 2023
THE THIRD QUARTER
Los Angeles took the second-half kickoff and began with a strike up the seam to Higbee.
A clever screen to Williams gained 20 yards. Soon after, a Bengals sack was called back for a facemask, giving the Rams the ball in the red zone. Chidobe Awuzie seemed scared in the corner.
Williams was targeted for another incompletion, and the ensuing tip was nearly intercepted. He hasn’t been the force in the passing game that McVay praised this week.
A wide-open touchdown was thwarted as Cincinnati called a timeout barely in time. Stafford was immediately sacked by defensive end Trey Hendrickson.
Maher’s field goal gave the Rams a second advantage.
With 10:37 left in the third quarter, the Rams lead 9-6.
Bengals’ Eighth Drive: The Bengals finally break through with a huge run. Mixon got the drive started with a chain-moving surge. Perhaps he’ll be relied on more in the second half.
With Donald roaring in, Burrow fired an off-target swing pass. He took a huge hit and took his time getting up, but he remained in the game. His next ball almost missed Chase, but the star made a terrific grab to get a first down.
Mixon eventually made an impact, sprinting for a 14-yard touchdown. Finally, we have a touchdown.
With 5:34 left in the third quarter, the Bengals lead 13-9.
The Rams strike back on their eighth drive! Stafford hitched and hitched as pressure closed in on him, but he completed a deep throw to Van Jefferson.
Stafford was intercepted on the following throw. At the line of scrimmage, the ball seemed to be tipped.
Burrow just completed his finest throw of the night, finding Chase on a long bootleg ball on the Bengals’ ninth drive. This is starting to feel like last week, when the quality of the San Francisco 49ers strangled a lesser squad. Let’s see if the Rams can turn the ball over.
The drive would finally come to a halt, but not before the Bengals were within striking distance of McPherson.
With 3:09 left in the third quarter, the Bengals lead 16-9.
Stafford found Atwell for a massive first down on the Rams’ tenth drive, but backup right guard Tremayne Anchrum Jr. was called for a costly penalty.
Los Angeles called a draw play for a few yards on third-and-16. Another squandered property.
THE FOURTH QUARTER
After a few runs and four Burrow throw attempts, the Bengals were poised to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Rams’ 40-yard line. Mixon collided with a wall but slithered through a seam for the first down.There you have it! Los Angeles received the much-needed respite. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon intercepted Burrow. With 10:21 left, the Rams will take over from their own 20-yard line.
Stafford and the Rams have a chance to tie the game on their eleventh drive.
Stafford’s first pass was a go route that soared out of bounds. On the following play, Hendrickson grabbed him again for a large loss. On third down, he was sacked again, forcing Los Angeles to punt.
Eleventh Drive: The Bengals will take over at the Rams’ 41-yard line.
Byron Young provided Mixon with his first negative yardage of the drive. The drive would be stopped on an incompletion, but McPherson would make it a two-possession game with a 54-yard field goal.
With 7:13 left in the fourth quarter, the Bengals lead 19-9.
Stafford targeted Atwell twice to open the Rams’ twelfth drive, but it was in vain.
Anarumo is generating pressure left and right. The Rams have failed to convert a third-down conversion. On third down, he was sacked again, but the play was nullified by penalties.
The next pass was a fast one to Atwell. Los Angeles will punt once again.
The Bengals punted on their twelfth drive after a couple runs went nowhere. With 3:34 left, the Rams will get the ball.
Thirteenth Drive of the Rams: Another drive, another missed third down. Stafford scrambled for the first down on fourth-and-3. The Rams are behind by ten points at the two-minute warning.
When they came out of the break, Nacua received his biggest reception of the night. A few short plays later, Atwell would make his way into the end zone, bringing the game to a close.
With 1:03 left in the fourth quarter, the Rams trail 19-16.
Cincinnati recovered the onside kick on its thirteenth drive. They will come out on top.
FINAL: The Rams are defeated by the Bengals, 19-16. They have dropped to 1-2.
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