The Cincinnati Bengals have struggled to put together a competent receiving corps around A.J. Green over the past couple of years after they lost their second and third wide receivers in free agency a few years ago. The early signs from this season, however, would suggest that they have now found what they were looking for.
Third-year wide receiver Tyler Boyd out of Pitt is a part of an effective Bengals offense that is 3-1 right now and on the top of the AFC North. He has become a full-time starter and has caught 26 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns so far. His quarterback has seen the growth in the former second-round pick.
“He’s done a great job. It shows with the production he’s had so far this year”, Andy Dalton said. “He’s a guy who’s playing with a ton of confidence. He’s trusting in what he does out at practice, trusting in the coaching he’s gotten, and it’s paying off. He’s got a great understanding of what we’re doing, and it’s showing on the field”.
The most famous—or infamous—play that he has had so far in his career came at the very end of last season. On fourth and 12 from the Baltimore Ravens’ 49-yard line, Dalton hit Boyd down the field, streaking past a trio of defenders for the go-ahead score with under a minute to play.
Dalton and Boyd repeatedly hooked up on the team’s game-winning drive on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ next opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. While the quarterback said that he wasn’t looking to target him, “it ended up being that way. He kept winning and getting open. He made so many big plays in that last drive that helped us get down there to win it”.
Boyd caught four passes for 40 yards on the drive, including a seven-yard grab on fourth and six from the Falcons’ 20-yard line to keep the drive alive, which eventually set up Green for the game-winning touchdown.
“The more he plays and the more experience, he’s really seeing it easily”, Dalton said of the development of his young playmaker. “He’s done a great job of winning in man coverage and finding zones. He’s just playing at a high level now”.
The Steelers have yet to see Boyd this season, but he was in a reserve role when the two teams played a year ago. He caught two passes for 15 yards in the one game he played. As a rookie, his best statistical game was in Week Two against the Steelers, catching six passes for 78 yards, but he also lost a key fumble late. He caught two passes for 13 yards in the second meeting.