Fine-tuning in the Motor City.
The Cincinnati Bengals left no doubt at Ford Field on Sunday, dispatching the Detroit Lions 34-11 and matching their 2020 win total. The Bengals are 4-2 for the first time since 2018.
Cincinnati's offense overcame early struggles to reward another great defensive outing.
Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase showed they are a deadly duo multiple times during the game and Cincinnati poured in a team effort to capture their 10th win over Detroit in 13 tries.
Good teams dominate bad teams, and the Bengals haven't put up consistent performances like this since they last made the playoffs in 2015. Sunday marked their first victory by 23-plus points since 2017. Between 2013 and 2015, the Bengals had multiple wins by 23-plus points each season. According to Scorigami, it was just the second 34-11 final score in NFL history.
Here's a Three Down Look from Sunday's complete performance in Detroit.
First Down: Chido & Wilson Attorney At Law
Chase and Burrow gobbled up the headlines, but the Bengals defense is driving the 4-2 ship through six weeks. Chidobe Awuzie and Logan Wilson continued to display their importance in coverage on Sunday.
The two led a great effort from the front seven in causing consistent issues for the Lions' offense. Detroit averaged 3.7 yards per play, and their lack of talent became a glaring problem early and often.
The Lions' offensive line struggled against the Bengals all afternoon, and Jared Goff fittingly cemented his status as a pumpkin. Goff produced a dismal -8.2 EPA and never got into a rhythm, finishing with a 22.7 xQBR. He ended up with 202 yards on 4.2 yards per attempt, and the pass rush wasn't the biggest factor.
Goff can't overcome this teams' dismal receiving corps. T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift are the two best pass catchers on the roster, combining for 117 yards on 13 catches. A great day for any slot receiver—unfortunately—every player labeled a receiver continued underperforming.
Only Khalif Raymond produced positive EPA among their receiving corps. Awuzie aided in the shutdown, playing sound coverage on the outside and contributing a pass breakup and five tackles. Wilson continued his nose for the ball with this interception and six tackles.
Add in the fact that D.J. Reader and company stifled the Lions' rushing attack by holding them to just 2 yards per carry, and the Bengal defense put this game on a platter for their complementary unit. According to the NFL Next Gen Stats, Swift ran for 24 yards on 13 carries and didn't find any rushing lanes that produced more than 10 yards on the ground.
Second Down: Dynamic Passing Attack Shows Up
Zac Taylor reached into his bag on Sunday afternoon.
Burrow's struggled with play-action during his young NFL career, but he and the Bengals offense rode the defense buster on Sunday afternoon. The former Heisman winner averaged 9-plus yards per attempt for the fourth time in his career, all coming this season.
Cincinnati poured in 142 yards on the ground, helping unlock a heavy play-action gameplan. The Bengals used a fake on 32% of Burrow's throws, finishing 7-of-10 for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns on play-action.
Burrow produced 9.9 EPA on a day where he threw for 271 yards and 3 touchdowns on 9.3 YPA. He added a deflected interception on a Chase drop, but Burrow was razor-sharp otherwise to his number one target.
Chase is making a strong case as a top-ten receiver in the league early in his career. He once again led the team in receiving with 97 yards on four catches, including multiple back-breaking deep completions from Burrow. The duo is a big reason why Burrow joined an NFL legend alone in the record books.
Patrick Mahomes and Burrow are the only quarterbacks in the NFL this season to throw multiple touchdowns in every game.
Third Down: Chris Evans Answers The Bell
Cincinnati called on Evans to step in for Samaje Perine, and he proved worthy of extended playing time. The rookie opened up scoring on a great stutter move to create separation on an outside go ball from Burrow.
"I want to mention Chris Evans. He's just getting better and better every single week," Burrow said. "You see what he can do in the pass game. He got one on one and really, really ran a great route and scored a touchdown for us. And then on the big throw to Ja'Marr in the second half, he picked up a safety pressure off the edge that was really unbelievable."
Evans was third on the team in receiving, finishing with 49 yards on three catches and one touchdown, while adding 4 carries for 18 yards. He also proved a worthy blocker, highlighted by this rush pick-up to unlock the deep pass to Chase.
Evans, Perine, and Joe Mixon represent a strong-running back room in a division full of them. Mixon showed he's returning to full health with 18 carries for 94 yards, and Evans flashed the burst to spell him when needed. Sunday represented a get-right game for the Bengals offense, and they took full advantage after a shaky first half.
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