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Game Preview: Bengals Head To The Motor City To Face The Lions In Week 6

Through just five games this season, Cincinnati already has 13 sacks, just four shy of last season’s 16-game total.
Through just five games this season, Cincinnati already has 13 sacks, just four shy of last season’s 16-game total.

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on FOX-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WXIX-TV (Ch. 19) in Cincinnati, WGRT-TV (Ch. 45) in Dayton, WDKY-TV (Ch. 56) in Lexington, and WTTE-TV (Ch. 28) in Columbus. Broadcasters are Chris Myers (play-by-play), Daryl Johnston (analyst) and Jen Hale (sideline reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).

Setting the scene: The Bengals this week travel to Detroit to take on the Lions at Ford Field on Sunday. Cincinnati stands at 3-2, and will be looking to get back into the win column after falling 25-22 in overtime to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday.

"It's a tough loss," said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. "It will come down to some last-second plays, and sometimes we'll make them and sometimes we won't. "This will serve us well over the course of the season. We're battle-tested."

Despite the narrow margin and a bevy dramatic big plays, the Green Bay game likely will be remembered for a combined six missed placekicks between the two teams. Four of the game's five missed FGs came in the final minute of regulation or in OT.

"That thing was a roller coaster," Taylor said. "Sometimes I didn't know how we ended up in the situation that we were in. They probably felt the same way on their sideline."

Bengals rookie K Evan McPherson, who in his first four career games nailed two game-winning FGs as time expired, missed from 57 and 49 yards. Packers K Mason Crosby, who entered the game having made 27 straight FGs, missed from 36, 51 and 40 yards, in addition to a missed PAT on Green Bay's first TD. Crosby, though, made the game-winner from 49 yards with 1:55 remaining in overtime.

"I struck it well," McPherson said of his missed 49-yarder, which came in OT and would've won the game for Cincinnati. "I was celebrating before the ball curved to the left. I struck it very well, and I saw it going right down the middle. I'm upset about it, but there's really nothing I can do about it now — just move on to Detroit and the next kick."

Offensively for Cincinnati, the star of the game was rookie WR Ja'Marr Chase, whose 159 receiving yards were the second-most ever by a Bengals rookie. Chase was responsible for each of Cincinnati's five longest plays on the day, including a 70-yard TD from QB Joe Burrow just before halftime that drew the Bengals within two points. Chase this season leads the NFL in receptions of 40 or more yards (four), and is tied for seventh in receptions of at least 20 yards (seven).

"We had a lot of opportunities to hit 'go' balls, and we were just mixing up what we wanted to do — stops, go's, ins, outs," Chase said. "We were just mixing it up to get the defender to come press us so we could go over the top.

On the other side of the ball, Rodgers helped the high-powered Packers offense to 466 total yards, but the Bengals' defense held them to just two TDs in five total trips to the red zone. Green Bay's 22 points through four quarters tied their second-lowest output in regulation over their last 16 games.

"We had a good game plan," said Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson, who had two sacks of Rodgers. "We executed fairly well, but I think we have things we need to correct. We're in the right positions, but we've got win games that are tight. That's what good teams do. We'll get after it and bounce back."

Burrow made headlines after the game, when he missed his postgame news conference after being taken to the hospital for a throat contusion. Taylor, though, told the local media on Monday that Burrow was OK, had been back in the building that morning, and is expected to play on Sunday in Detroit.

During the game though, Burrow put together yet another impressive performance, completing 68.4 percent of his passes for 281 yards, two TDs and two INTs. He now has 11 TD passes to six INTs, and stands as the first Bengals QB ever with two or more TD passes in each of the first five games of a season.

This week, Taylor leads the Bengals into Detroit to face a former boss and former protégé. In 2015, Taylor was interim offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins under current Lions head coach Dan Campbell, who had taken over mid-season as the Dolphins' interim head coach. Current Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo also served as interim defensive coordinator on that staff. Taylor also will be facing off against Lions QB Jared Goff, whom he coached with the L.A. Rams from 2017-18. With Taylor as his QBs coach in 2018, Goff posted career-highs in every major passing category and was a key component to a high-powered Rams offense that reached Super Bowl LII.

Detroit enters Sunday's matchup 0-5, after losing 19-17 at Minnesota last week.

Check out a few of the best throwback photos from the Bengals vs. Lions series.

The series: Cincinnati owns an 9-3 series lead, and its .750 winning percentage against Detroit is their highest against any NFL foe. The Bengals have won nine of the last 10 against the Lions, including six straight.

Three of the last four Bengals wins over the Lions have been part of AFC North Division championship seasons for Cincinnati. In 2005, the Bengals won 41-17 at Detroit, clinching the AFC North title on Dec. 18. In 2009, the Bengals won 23-13 at home on Dec. 6. And on Oct. 20, 2013, the Bengals won 27-24 at Detroit.

The Bengals lead 5-1 in games at Detroit. Detroit's lone home win occurred in the two teams' very first meeting— a lopsided 38-3 Lions victory in 1970, Cincinnati's first season in the NFL (the Bengals were in the AFL from 1968-69).

Bengals-Lions connections: In 2015, Lions head coach Dan Campbell took over mid-season as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins, where his interim offensive coordinator was Bengals head coach Zac Taylor and interim defensive coordinator was current Bengals DC Lou Anarumo; Bengals senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner and assistant offensive line coach Ben Martin were also on that coaching staff ... Lions K Austin Seibert was with the Bengals in 2020 and through the '21 preseason ... Bengals OT Riley Reiff originally was a first-round pick of the Lions in 2012, and was with the team through the '16 season ... Bengals CB Darius Phillips is from Detroit (Robichaud High School in Dearborn Heights) and played at Western Michigan University ... Bengals LS Clark Harris spent the 2008 preseason with the Lions ... Lions T Taylor Decker (Injured Reserve) is from Vandalia, Ohio (Butler High School) and played at Ohio State University ... Lions G Jonah Jackson, DE Jashon Cornell and CB Jeff Okudah (Injured Reserve) also played at Ohio State ... Lions G Logan Stenberg played at the University of Kentucky ... Bengals HB Chris Evans played at the University of Michigan ... Bengals CB Trae Waynes and LB Joe Bachie (practice squad) both played at Michigan State University ... Lions DE Joel Heath (Injured Reserve) is from Cincinnati (Mount Healthy High School) ... Lions G Tommy Kraemer (practice squad) is from Cincinnati (Elder High School) ... Bengals DT Mike Daniels (practice squad) was with the Lions in 2019 ... Bengals DE Khalid Kareem (Reserve/Injured) is from Detroit (Harrison High School in Farmington Hills) ... Lions QB Tim Boyle (Injured Reserve) played at Eastern Kentucky University ... Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan was on the Lions' coaching staff from 2016-17 ... Bengals linebackers coach Al Golden was on the Lions' coaching staff from 2016-19 ... Bengals secondary/cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson was on the Lions' staff in 2013 ... Bengals wide receivers coach Troy Walters played for the Lions in 2007 ... Bengals defensive quality control coach Jordan Kovacs played (2009-12) and coached ('17-18) at the University of Michigan ... Lions senior defensive assistant Dom Capers is from Cambridge, Ohio, and coached at Ohio State from 1982-83.

Bengals carry "Mo" into halftime: The Bengals this season have scored a combined 28 points in the last two minutes of the first half. That total is tied for second among all NFL teams. When divided out among Cincinnati's five games, that's an average of 5.6 points per game in the last two minutes.

Burrow bounces back: Bengals QB Joe Burrow returned to the field this season a little more than nine months after his rookie campaign was cut short by a left knee injury. Over the offseason, a hot topic of debate centered on how quickly Burrow could return to game action, and then if and when he would return to form. He answered both of those questions almost immediately.

Shortly after the injury last season, Burrow vowed publicly that he would be Cincinnati's starting QB in the 2021 season-opener. In Game 1 vs. Minnesota, he not only made good on that promise, he went on to post then-career highs in passer rating (128.8), completion percentage (74.1) and yards per attempt (9.67). Later, Burrow led Cincinnati on a seven-play, 46-yard drive in overtime that set up a game-winning FG as time expired.

So far this season, Burrow has completed 104 of 145 passes (71.7 percent) for 1269 yards, 11 TDs and six INTs (106.4 rating).

One big day for 'Uno': WR Ja'Marr Chase, who is the first player in Bengals history to wear uniform No. 1 and has thus earned the nickname "Uno" among fans, is already taking aim at Cincinnati's rookie receiving record book. In just his fifth career game — Oct. 10 vs. Green Bay — 'Uno' recorded 159 receiving yards on nine catches, and scored on a 70-yard bomb from fellow LSU Tiger Joe Burrow just before halftime. That receiving yardage total counted as the second-best ever by a Bengals rookie, behind Speedy Thomas' 177 in 1969.

It should be noted that the Green Bay game went into overtime, and that Chase had one catch for 21 yards in the extra period.

The rundown on Chase: Bengals rookie WR Ja'Marr Chase has lit up the record books so far in his young career. Here's a rundown of some of his accomplishments to this point in the season.

  • Chase leads all rookies in both receiving yardage (456) and TDs (five). Among all players, he is seventh in receiving yards and tied for second in receiving TDs.
  • He leads the NFL in receptions of 40 yards or longer (four), and is tied for seventh in receptions of 20 yards or longer (seven).
  • He is one of just 11 rookies ever with at least five TD catches in their first five games. The last to do so was Washington WR Terry McLaurin in 2019.
  • He is one of just five rookies in NFL history to record at least 50 receiving yards in each of their first five games. He joins Detroit's Earl McCullouch (1968), New England's Terry Glenn ('96), Washington's Terry McLaurin (2019), and Dallas' CeeDee Lamb ('21).
  • He is one of two players in NFL history with a reception of at least 30 yards in each of their first five career games. Detroit WR Earl McCullouch, who at one time was the world-record holder in the 110-meter hurdles, did it in 1968.

Logan tied for second in INTs: Bengals second-year LB Logan Wilson has turned heads this season as one of the team's top defensive players. The 2020 third-round pick has three INTs so far this season, tied for second-most in the NFL. No other linebacker has more than two INTs. Wilson's three INTs already are the most by a Bengals LB in a season since Odell Thurman's five in 2005.

Wilson has also been strong against the run. His 46 tackles lead the team and rank tied for ninth leaguewide. He has led Cincinnati in tackles in three of the team's five games this season.

As a rookie last season, Wilson was eased into the regular defensive rotation and then battled injuries late in the year. This season, he was assigned the green dot on his helmet as the team's designated communicator, and has been credited by teammates for being a vocal leader.

"He has a huge responsibility on his shoulders this year," DE Trey Hendrickson said of Wilson. "He's taken in a lot in just two years, and you wouldn't know that he's a second-year guy. He's our play-caller out there, and he's getting the calls out quickly. That's what we need from a guy inside like that. And he's got hands too."

Bengals improve 2020 pass-rush: Over the offseason, one of the Bengals' primary areas of focus was to improve a pass-rush that last year totaled a league-low 17 sacks. Injuries were a key factor a year ago, especially toward the end of the season, but Cincinnati still approached free agency and the draft with a clear intent of improving the defensive line and pass rush.

Through just five games this season, Cincinnati already has 13 sacks, just four shy of last season's 16-game total. DE Trey Hendrickson, one of the team's key acquisitions in free agency last March, leads the team with 4.5 sacks, which at the end of last season would have ranked second on the squad. Seven Bengals have gotten into the sack column this season, including DT Larry Ogunjobi (one), another free agent acquisition, and DE Cam Sample (one), one of four defensive linemen Cincinnati selected in April's draft. The revamped defensive line has accounted for all but one of the team's sacks this season.

The Bengals this year are tied for seventh leaguewide in sacks. "We've got a band of guys that are all in the same kind of age group," said DT D.J. Reader, who played just five games a year ago due to injury. "We're all similar in ways that we're all competitors. Everybody's competitive. And everybody is on the board right now. Everybody has a sack so now it's just we're all hunting together."

Hendrickson on torrid sack pace: DE Trey Hendrickson is in his first season with the Bengals, but he's already making an impact in the sack column.

Hendrickson, one of the headliners of Cincinnati's free agency haul in March, has a team-high 4.5 sacks through just five games. That puts him on an early pace for 15 sacks for a full 17-game season, which would be second-most in team history between DE Coy Bacon's team-record 22 in 1976, and DE Carlos Dunlap's 13.5 in 2015. It would also make him the first Bengal with double-digit sacks since former DT Geno Atkins' 10 in 2018.

Last season with New Orleans, Hendrickson had 13.5 sacks, tied for the NFC lead and tied for second-most leaguewide.

Bell rings of reliability: One of Cincinnati's most trusted leaders and consistent players on the field over the last two seasons has been S Vonn Bell. The sixth-year pro joined the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2020 season, and in his two seasons since, he hasn't missed a single defensive snap. That span covers a combined 1410 total snaps — 1059 last season, and 351 so far this year. No other Bengal — on either side of the ball played every snap last season, and this year he's already the only defender left who hasn't missed a snap.

Bell has been a captain in both of his Bengals seasons. He ranks third on the team in tackles (31) this year, after leading the team in that category (114) last season.

Mr. Reliable wears No. 30: Jessie Bates earned a starting S spot midway through his first preseason in Cincinnati, and he hasn't looked back since. The 2018 second-round pick started 51 straight games to begin his Bengals career — that's three full seasons plus three games — until a neck injury ended his streak in the fourth game of 2021 (Sept. 30 vs. Jacksonville). He missed just that one game before returning the next week vs. Green Bay.

Still, Bates' streak is tied for the sixth-most consecutive starts by a player to begin their career as a Bengal, and the second-most by a defender. Had he started the Jacksonville game, he would have tied former LB Takeo Spikes (52) for most starts to begin a career by a Bengals defender.