Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon rushed for four touchdowns and caught another in Sunday’s 42-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Here’s what you need to know:
- Mixon finished the first half with four touchdowns, three on the ground and one through the air.
- He rushed for 113 yards on 15 carries and added four receptions and 58 receiving yards.
- The 26-year-old is the first player to score four touchdowns in the first half since Jamaal Charles did it for the Chiefs on Dec. 15, 2013.
The Athletichis instant analysis:
How it happened
Mixon started his hot streak with a 2-yard touchdown rush on the Bengals’ opening possession of the game. Cincinnati went on to score four touchdowns in the second quarter, with three coming from Mixon. Halfway through the quarter, he rushed 3 yards for a score to give the Bengals a 21-0 lead. He later added a score on the ground and then caught a 12-yard pass from quarterback Joe Burrow for the final touchdown of the half.
Cincinnati went into halftime with a 35-0 lead over Carolina. The 35-point halftime lead was the second largest in Bengals history.
In the third quarter, Mixon put the Bengals up 42-7 on a 14-yard rushing touchdown.
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Mixon drowns out the noise
They’ve been there all season, but questions about whether Mixon had lost a step grew stronger after Monday night’s loss at Cleveland when he carried eight times for 27 yards. Whether Mixon heard the questions is unclear. Whether he answered them is indisputable. Mixon scored a franchise-record five touchdowns while rushing for 153 yards and posted a career-high 211 all-purpose yards in a sweep of the Panthers. The Bengals abandoned Mixon and the running game altogether six days ago in Cleveland, but coach and player Zac Taylor showed his deepest commitment to the ground game this season, going to it early and often while finding plenty of success. – Morrison
What did Sunday’s performance show us?
As great as the five-touchdown performance was, the most encouraging part of the performance was the explosion Mixon showed, which began with his second touchdown of the game when he caught a short pass from Burrow and ripped off a 35-yard gain, breaking a pair of tackles along the way. The inability to make defenders miss has been at the center of the discussion about whether Mixon has hit a career wall.
He had just seven runs of at least 10 yards through the first eight games, but Mixon had six early in the third quarter against the Panthers and then took the fourth quarter off. If Mixon and the Bengals can make this the start of a more balanced offense instead of just a one-and-done offense, this offense is going to be a force when injured receiver Ja’Marr Chase returns in a couple of weeks. – Morrison
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The highlight of the game
Mixon’s four rushing touchdowns tied running backs Larry Kinnebrew and Corey Dillon and wide receiver Marvin Jones for the Bengals’ record. His five total TDs set a new franchise mark.
(Photo: Katie Stratman / USA Today)