Story Poster
Photo by Isaiah Downing | USA Today Sports
Notre Dame Football

Former Notre Dame Captain Khalid Kareem Keeps Bengals in Playoff Race

December 20, 2021

Khalid Kareem's breakout game has been a long time coming. The former Notre Dame captain played through injuries as a rookie in 2020 and 2021 got off to a slow start due to a nagging shoulder injury that had him in IR to start the year. 

On Sunday, Kareem played 13 snaps in Cincinnati’s (8-6) 15-10 win at Denver (7-7) and made the most of them before getting knocked out of the game due to concussion protocol. 

Kareem recorded a tackle for loss and a quarterback pressure in the first half, but he wasn't done. 

The Bengals held a five-point lead with 10:39 left in the game and Denver had the ball 2nd-and-goal from the nine. Broncos quarterback Drew Lock kept a read option and Kareem ripped it from his hands.

"It's game ball worthy," stated Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. "No question about that. 

"It's 15-10 and they're driving that situation. A touchdown puts us in a tough spot, so a really big play by him to step up and take that ball on a fumble or interception or whatever they're going to call it. Tremendous effort by him."  

Kareem returned the ball to around the Broncos 40 before getting a helmet-to-helmet shot, which caused him to lose the ball, but after a review, it was ruled the Michigan native was down prior to the start of the return. 

The targeting shot would cause Kareem to be carted off the field and put into concussion protocol, but the momentum was back with Cincinnati along with a game ball in the defensive end’s hands following the game. 

"Khalid got that fumble or interception," laughed Bengals defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi. "I don't know what it was, but he got the ball. They were in scoring distance, so momentum things like that - making big plays and finding ways to get the momentum back, you have to keep going and it'll work out in your favor." 

Kareem had only played 40 snaps before Sunday's game, but Ogunjobi knew the second-year player was ready to make a game-changing play. 

"To be able to understand the read and get the ball out of Drew's hands, grab it and run it, it was great," Ogunjobi said. "Being able to make plays - he had a big TFL when he first game in the game. He's playing his keys and playing good football." 

The turnover kept the Bengals playoff hopes alive and there wasn't anyone more grateful for Kareem's turnover than quarterback Joe Burrow.

"Our defense came up with a big play," said Burrow. "So happy for Khalid. He's fought through some injuries all year and to have him make a play like that is awesome. He works really hard that guy. I'm happy for him." 

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.