The Cincinnati Bengals ranked 16th in third down efficiency during the regular season, converting 39.7 percent of their opportunities on the money down. But the Bengals have steadily improved since the postseason began, increasing their conversion percentage every week.
Tyler Boyd was Joe Burrow’s favorite receiver on third down against the Las Vegas Raiders with three targets. Cincinnati went to the air on 83 percent of their attempts on third down, including twice on third-and-1. Running back Joe Mixon’s number was called in an attempt to move the chains on the other two third-and-1 situations, converting on only one of those opportunities. The Bengals converted five of their 12 third down tries, good for 41.6 percent. They also converted a fourth-and-1 with a 15-yard jet sweep from Ja’Marr Chase.
Head coach Zack Taylor refused to run on any of their third-and-short opportunities against the Tennessee Titans. Overall, Cincinnati decided to call a pass on each of their 15 attempts. Burrow did call his own number once, scrambling for seven yards on third-and-5. Wide receiver Tee Higgins was the featured player on the money down, racking up four catches on five targets. He was able to move the chains on two of his four catches. Burrow was sacked three times on third down—losing a total of 38 yards on those plays—but still found a way to complete 90 percent of his passes. They were able to move the chains seven out of 15 attempts, converting at 46.6 percent.
Cincinnati stayed hot on third down against the Kansas City Chiefs, converting eight of their 14 attempts for 57.1 percent. Surprisingly, running back Samaje Perine led the team with three targets. He caught two of his three targets but didn’t convert any into first downs. Burrow scrambled three times against the Chiefs, picking up a first down on all three attempts. The Bengals’ one designed run was a quarterback sneak on third-and-1, which picked up two yards.
The Bengals have been red hot on third down in the playoffs, converting 48.7 percent of their third downs. Getting them off the field, limiting Burrow’s opportunities and keeping the Los Angeles Rams defense fresh is paramount for an LA Super Bowl 56 victory.