BALTIMORE, Maryland — Cincinnati’s trip to the red zone late in the third quarter Sunday night against the Ravens came and went without starting running back Joe Mixon touching the ball.
Coach Zac Taylor called four straight pass attempts after a Ravens defensive pass attempt gave the Bengals another set of downs at the 2-yard line, where he called four straight pass attempts.
While a botched gadget play on second down may have affected his decision-making — the “Philly Special” cost the offense 12 yards — he called a shovel pass on fourth down after they returned to the original line of scrimmage.
Taylor went with a more straightforward approach as the Bengals drove right back down the field on their next drive. Mixon was about an inch from the goal line when he got a lead on first-and-goal at the 5-yard line that set up Joe Burrow to score on the next play with a quarterback sneak.
“I’m just doing my job, just running the play called,” Mixon said, of the Bengals calling the red zone.
Mixon gave a similar response when asked specifically about the failed sequence at the goal line.
“I mean whatever the name is, it’s on him (Taylor),” Mixon said. “I just play the cards that are dealt, do my job and everyone else just has to come through to execute.”
Mixon was his most efficient all season on Sunday night with 14 carries for 78 yards. He broke into the second level multiple times — he entered the game with two runs of 10 yards or more in four games and had three against the Ravens — and averaged a season-high 5.6 yards per carry.
He thought the Bengals ran with an “attitude” they hadn’t shown this season.
“The lineman did a good job, they were out there moving guys and creating holes and I was just trying to get them yards and make things happen,” Mixon said. “I thought they did a great job today.”
But Mixon’s success wasn’t necessarily a factor for Taylor on the goal line where he was familiar with Baltimore’s tough defensive front.
“You prepare against fronts and you see what teams have done and why they’ve been successful,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t really because the teams are running downhill. It was kind of getting things on the perimeter.”
The Bengals have run 43 plays inside the 25-yard line this year and punted the ball 23 times. Mixon has 16 carries for 30 yards with one touchdown, and the bulk of those carries (14) have come inside the 10-yard line.
Burrow, who is 11 of 23 for 59 yards in the red zone, has accounted for the team’s other scores (six passing, one rushing).
Mixon, who called a players-only meeting with members of the offensive line earlier in the week, vowed to continue to do what is necessary to help turn things around for an offense that has been inconsistent through the first five games.
“We just have to keep digging in and getting better,” Mixon said. “Hopefully we can deliver next time.”
Think you know football? Game cleveland.com Pro Picks Challenge for a chance to win prizes! Click here: cleveland.com Pro Picks Challenge
Get the latest Bengals merchandise: Here you can order Cincinnati Bengals gear online including jerseys, hoodies, t-shirts, hats and more
If you or a loved one have questions and need to talk to a professional about gambling, call the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or the National Council on Program Gambling Helpline (NCPG) at 1-800-522- 4700.
More Bengals coverage
Bengals fall at Baltimore, 19-17, as Ravens take AFC North lead
Ravens 19, Bengals 17: The 5 moments that mattered
Watch Joe Burrows’ TD run that helped the Bengals take a late lead against the Ravens
Tee Higgins declared questionable with ankle injury, will not return in Bengals loss to Ravens
Watch Bengals TE Hayden Hurst score a TD to cut the lead vs. Ravens
Watch Vonn Bell’s interception of Lamar Jackson in the second quarter
Hayden Hurst finds long-awaited role in Cincinnati before returning to Baltimore