The Bengals on Sunday pulled out their most impressive victory so far this season by a score of 20-16 against the Titans. I am beginning to feel like the people of Nashville are starting to really hate this Cincinnati team. No Joe Mixon, No Ja’Marr Chase, No problem this time around, as Cincinnati gives the Titans another heartbreaking loss, just as they ended their season in the playoffs last year. As the Bengals game finished, the Jaguars decided to give us more joy as Ex-Bengal Marvin Jones Jr. and Trevor Lawrence connected on a last second touchdown along with a Lawrence converted 2-point conversion to beat the Ravens. Your Cincinnati Bengals are now tied for first in the AFC North and have won 5 of their last 6 games.
· Samaje Perine had another magnificent game. He has earned split carries once Mixon returns, as he steps up every time his number is called. Samaje had 93 total yards along with a rushing touchdown.
· Germaine Pratt- Give this man a game ball already. Pratt and the rest of this defense limited Henry all day to small gains outside of the one screen pass. Pratt only had 6 total tackles this game, but his presence along with Wilson is a huge reason why Cincinnati came out of Nashville with a win.
· Tee Higgins had another monstrous game after getting off to a cold start. Tee reeled in 7 receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. Business as usual for the new era “Ocho-Cinco.”
· The Bengals offensive line had another stellar performance. They have continued to create holes and have drastically improved from the performances we all watched the first two weeks to begin the season.
· Trenton Irwin made the biggest play of the day that ultimately lead to 6 points on the board. On a crucial 3rd down, Irwin brought in a huge grab on the sideline. He only had 1 reception, but he made sure to make it count.
· Zac Taylor called another magnificent game and that makes two in a row now for him. I am known for being very critical of Zac at times, but he truly has called 2 amazing games back-to-back with some crucial players not active.
· Penalties on punt returns were a huge problem in the first half and led to horrible field advantage. Luckily our defense forced many 3 and outs or this could have been a different scoring outcome.
· The only other negative that I can come up with is the schedule Cincinnati is about to endure to end the season. While they have scary opponents left to end the season, I can guarantee that all of them are feeling the same way about playing us.
Graham Ashcraft joins Matt’s Take
The fast throwing and bright spot of this past Reds season, Graham Ashcraft, joined Matt’s Take this week. Douglas “Graham” Ashcraft made his pitching debut this past season for the Reds at the young
age of 24. The Alabama native quickly became a fan favorite on the mound with his electric fastball and ability to force ground balls. Graham’s work ethic and love for the game of baseball is visible every time he takes the mound and this week, he was kind enough to join me for an interview.
Q: What has been your favorite moment as a Red so far?
A: “There have been a lot of moments that have stuck with me from this past season from my debut in Toronto to my first start in Cincinnati where my family got to watch me for the first time in person, also getting to experience a few walk-offs during season and a few shutouts. For me it’s hard to narrow it down to the exact one, but I would have to say my first start in Cincinnati where I had my wife and family at.”
Q: How are you able to consistently throw 100+ mph cutters and fastballs?
A: “To be honest I don’t have a solid answer for this. I’ve always thrown relatively hard my whole life so I think it’s just the training and development from over the years. And fun fact, the cutter is actually my 4-Seam, it just has natural cut.”
Q: What does this Reds team need to improve on to be a true contender?
A: “I feel we are on the right track. Once we get some guys back from the IL and we are healthy, things will start falling together.”
Q: Is there a specific pitch that you are working to improve on during the off season?
A: “This off-season my focus is to develop a splitter or a change which ever one is going to get the best movement downward since I don’t really have a pitch that moves that way.”
Q: If you could watch a baseball game with anyone past or present, who would you choose and why?
A: “I think I would like to watch a game with Chipper Jones. I grew up watching him and he was my favorite player growing up. Plus, me and him are both outdoorsmen so I think we would be able to have some good conversations other than just about the game.” Matt’s Take is Presented by BetFred Sportsbook
Join me in pre-registering to bet at the following links, as January is right around the corner!