It feels like we’ve been talking about when Tyler Boyd was going to break out for thirteen years now. Without looking it up, I would guess the Bengals drafted him out of Pittsburgh around the same time Dion Lewis was on campus. I’d probably be wrong, no, I am sure of it, but I am also sure that Tyler Boyd has arrived and killed the Falcons in the process. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve loved Theoretical Tyler Boyd ever since he came into the NFL -- another Julian Edelman, Cole Beasley, etc. kind of wideout who just had a knack for crushing teams when their quarterback checks down and finds them just in the right spot for a back-breaking first down.
In Boyd’s case, this did not happen until the second half, when the Bengals lost their superstar tight end to injury once again in brutal fashion. (This is not me trying to tease you to go watch the video. Please do not watch the video. It is *that* bad.) The Bengals lost their unicorn wide-receiver-tight-end-or-whatever-he-is hybrid early in the third, so Boyd decided it was time for the guy who was two years away from being two years away to ensure the Falcons were 1-3 through four weeks of action.
Mission accomplished, asshole.
For the rest of the afternoon, the Bengals’ human safety valve reeled in one huge third-down catch after another to keep the Bengals’ offense on the field. Rarely, if ever, did you hear or see AJ Green’s name on the broadcast. (Yes, the former UGA star nabbed the game-winning touchdown, but outside of that, his impact didn’t feel as demoralizing as the sound of “Dalton finds Boyd for a thirteen-yard reception and another Cincy first down.) While Mohamed Sanu Sr. pulverized the Bengals’ secondary on big third downs, Boyd destroyed the Falcons’ secondary whenever Dalton was getting pressured and needed to find his reliable safety net. Granted, Dalton wasn’t running for his life on every down like Deshaun Watson is accustomed to in Houston -- this is where I mention Takk McKinley in the column because his impact was felt as the former UCLA star added a big-time sack on third down in the 3rd quarter, another sack that almost resulted in a fumble, and, for the most part, made Falcon fans forget about the other edge rusher on the team for the majority of the afternoon -- but when he was and after he lost Eifert, he made damn sure he was going to find Tyler effing Boyd.
This is the new normal for the Atlanta Falcons, though. If they don’t have the ball last, they’re probably going to lose. (Serious question: Did you notice the existence of Jalen Richards in this game? Damontae Kazee had the huge interception, Bryan Poole had the awful targeting play, Robert Alford had a stellar pass breakup in the endzone against Green, and Desmond Trufant looked tired, man, but did you ever see Richards? Outside of Duke Riley’s hit-stick moment late in third quarter, did you notice him? You didn’t notice a lot of guys because you noticed Tyler Boyd and Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert and AJ Green and everybody on that Cincinnati offense lighting Dan Quinn’s defense on fire. This will continue because it has to continue. The Falcons figured out how to score in the red zone again -- 10 for their last 10 at one point in this game -- but they also figured out just how screwed this team is on defense. Andy Dalton is a good quarterback. Andy Dalton is not *this* good of a quarterback. Hello, Nick Bosa!
Lifted from the Legal Pad:
That third quarter was wild. After a blazing first half with zero punts, the third had 93 penalties, a blocked punt, a Kazee interception and so much more.
Big Takk McKinley game. Beasley Jr. did have a nice strip sack, too. Progress?
Ryan hitting Paulsen for that touchdown in the first half was discombobulating.
Calvin Ridley really likes posing as close as possible to the on-field videographers on his touchdown-grabs. I’ll allow it.
No Joe Mixon, no Eifert, no pass-protection issues, no problem.
Another big Julio day.
Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith are perfectly fine as a one-two punch. Are we sure the team needs Devonta Freeman?
Was that Christian effing Hackenberg on the sidelines for the Bengals?
Bill Lazor or Steve Sarkisian for Biggest Surprise OC Work of the year?
Bengals were averaging 10.3 yards per play at one point this game. Eric Reid, Eric Schmeid, right? RIGHT?
Big what-if on that missed touchdown in the back of the endzone for Hooper. Ryan places that ball better and the game is over.
Boyd had two fourth-down conversions on that game-winning drive. Man.