CINCINNATI – What a night for Sam Hubbard.
The Bengals rookie defensive end couldn’t ask for a more memorable regular-season home debut at Paul Brown Stadium Thursday night.
Hubbard, the former Ohio State University and Moeller High School standout, had five tackles (two for a loss), one sack and a quarterback hurry in a 34-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens in front of 50,018 at PBS.
“It was a blast,” Hubbard said with a smile in the locker room after the game. “It was a little bit hot but it was a blast. The first prime time game.”
The Bengals (2-0) certainly have utilized their third-round draft pick early this season on the defensive line but also as a fullback on offense.
“They (the coaching staff) told me they were anticipating me getting more snaps today for this game,” Hubbard said. “They’re used to rotating four (defensive) ends not five. With Mike (Johnson) going down with an injury it just made it more urgent and I was preparing all week like I was going to play the whole game. That’s how I always prepare.”
Hubbard recorded his first career sack at the 9:11 mark of the first quarter when he reached Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco at the Ravens’ 36-yard line on first down. Flacco backpedaled on contact and threw the ball away for a loss of 11 yards.
“I thought he’d threw the ball away and stole it from me,” Hubbard said. “It was awesome. It was a great feeling. A perfect play. It’s something I can emotionally never replace or forget about.”
Hubbard saw plenty of snaps in the first half especially after starting right defensive end Michael Johnson was declared out for the game at the 6:26 mark of the first quarter with a knee injury.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was impressed with Hubbard’s performance.
“Sam has done a nice job for us giving us real positive snaps,” Lewis said. “As I’ve said every time somebody brings up his name, he’s quite an asset.”
Hubbard’s first scrimmage snap was on offense just like during the Week 1 game at Indianapolis when he was the lead blocker for Joe Mixon’s touchdown run early in the fourth quarter which gave the Bengals the lead for good.
On Thursday night, Hubbard entered the game as a fullback with first-and-goal on the 1-yard line at the 11:22 mark. However, Mixon ran over right end and lost three yards this time.
Hubbard aided Geno Atkins on third down in tackling Flacco for a loss of five yards at the Baltimore 21. Atkins received credit for the sack. Hubbard playfully jumped onto Atkins’ back as the defense went to the sideline.
Hubbard showed his physicality early in the second quarter when slammed Baltimore running back Javorius Allen to the ground for a loss at the 10:37 mark. Fittingly, Hubbard also made the final tackle of the game.
“He’s so long,” ESPN college football analyst Rocky Boiman told WCPO in the first half. “His leverage is great – he’s not giving up his chest. He looks good on twist stunts. He’s looking real good.”
Hubbard, a 2014 Moeller graduate, was a third-round selection by the Bengals this past April. His parents, Jim and Amy Hubbard, tailgated four hours prior to kickoff with family and friends in Lot D next to Paul Brown Stadium.
Many wore customized the Hubbard No. 94 jerseys. Family and friends ordered a Bengal Pro Shop record 164 jerseys in mid-July.
Sam Hubbard didn’t know how many family and friends were in attendance but he knew there were a lot. His family was indeed watching from Row 106, Row 20 inside PBS. It was a special night for all Bengals fans, especially the Hubbard family.
“Corps 94. Sack-cinnati!” his father Jim Hubbard wrote in a text message after Sam’s sack.