DETROIT - The Bengals left Motown Sunday evening with another hit supplied by the NFL's most electric duo when quarterback Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase lit up the Lions in a 34-11 victory at Ford Field.
It was a Throwback Win as the Bengals went to 4-2 in their biggest win since a 31-7 win against Cleveland in 2017 and it was also their first back-to-back road win since the 2015 AFC North title season.
Not only did Chase make the final three points of the first half possible on his 34-yard grab, he made sure they got the seven points on the first drive of the second half. That's the third time this season they've rolled the Vegas Double and closed and opened the halves with scores on the strength of their 11th straight successful coin flip.
Chase, who had 97 yards, had two more catches of at least 34 yards and Burrow threw three more touchdowns and 271 yards during his fourth triple-digit passer rating of the year (115.7) before he was lifted with eight-and-a-half minutes left. Running back Joe Mixon threw down a 153-yard all-purpose day, rookie running back Chris Evans logged his first NFL touchdown catch and the defense didn't allow any points until old friend Austin Seibert's 35-yard field goal with 8:36 left.
Burrow's 53-yard flip down the middle of the field to Chase (courtesy of Evans' blitz pickup block) was Chase's third 50-yard catch in in his first six NFL games. It also set up Burrow's third touchdown catch, a third-down two-yarder to posted up tight end C.J. Uzomah to make it 27-0.
But Chase's block may have been the telling, turning point.
The Bengals went for it on fourth-and-one from the Lions 40 out of a heavy formation look and Burrow faked handing off a jet sweep to wide receiver Tee Higgins coming from right to left. Burrow then rolled right and with no one covering Mixon in the flat he jolted to the five-yard line where Chase pushed back backpedaling safety Will Harris to allow Mixon to finish off the 40-yard touchdown catch for the 17-0 lead
The Lions just couldn't do a thing against a flexing Bengals defense that allowed just 228 yards, 36 yards rushing and quarterback Jared Goff's 4.8 yards per his 42 throws.. Seconds after Mixon's touchdown, nose tackle D.J. Reader stoned them on third-and-one and they couldn't go for it on fourth-and-one because of a false start.
The Bengals then put the Lions in the meat grinder and crunched out Evan McPherson's 40-yard field goal with 3:38 left in the third quarter on a drive that spit out 5:35. A 23-yard catch by wide receiver Tee Higgins over the middle helped, but Mixon punched out 27 yards on five carries and Evans got five on his first NFL carry.
The Bengals needed more late magic from Burrow and Chase to get McPherson's 38-yard field goal at the gun to take a 10-0 halftime lead.
After taking a 7-0 lead on their first drive of the game, the Bengals offense got nothing until the final minute of the half. They reeled off their first three third-down tries, but then missed their next four as they fought penalties and unblocked blitzers while unable to attack an undermanned Lions secondary that wasn't always playing a two deep zone. And Mixon had trouble getting going with 31 yards on eight carries in the first half.
But, naturally, Burrow and Chase changed that. On third-and-10 with 23 seconds left and the Lions playing two deep, Burrow dropped a dime on Chase running down the right sideline for a 34-yard completion that couldn't have placed more perfectly over undrafted rookie cornerback Jerry Jacobs.
It was the fourth time in his six NFL games that Chase caught a ball of at least 34 yards in the final 37 seconds of the first half. The previous three went for touchdowns. This one got a field goal.
Burrow had two shots into the end zone and he got chased out of the pocket on each one before McPherson came on.
Burrow had a great first drive but ended the half with a 74.5 passer rating on 11 of 18 passing for 113 yards with a touchdown and an interception before heating up in the second half.
The Bengals defense was immense in the same half. It allowed just 51 yards and forced Goff into nine of 15 for a miserly 38 yards with longest catch just ten yards. Edge Trey Hendrickson tortured Lions rookie left tackle Penei Sewell for a sack and two penalties, edge Sam Hubbard had a tackle for a loss, middle linebacker Logan Wilson got his fourth interception and strong safety Vonn Bell made it possible with a forced fumble.
It looked like Burrow changed the play as the play clock wound down to one on third-and-five from the Lions 24 on the first drive of the game. He said after the game he didn't change it, but he did see Chris Evans, split widest of five wide, matched up on linebacker Jalen Reeves-Martin. Evans, the sixth-rounder out of Michigan, came back in style when he fried Reeves-Martin down the sideline and he was wide open but made a nice diving extended catch in the end zone off a ball Burrow lofted out there.
It was the Bengals' first touchdown on a first drive this year and came courtesy of Burrow's two third-down completions, his only throws of the drive. On third-and-nine he threw a 14-yard dart to Higgins.
The Bengals came out using multiple tight ends frequently and even went triple tight ends on one snap as Taylor went to play-action early and often.
But up 7-0, the Bengals did exactly what they didn't want to do and gave the winless Lions hope. Right guard Trey Hill's holding call in his first NFL start negated Higgins' 18-yard catch and then Hill's false start on the next snap gave them second-and-forever. The Bengals didn't take care of the ball on third down and Burrow gunned it to Chase over the middle and he deflected it and the ball got picked off.
But Wilson came up with another pick when Bell forced a huge fumble out of the arms of wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown at the Bengals 26 at the end of what would have been a 25-yard catch.
The Bengals couldn't take advantage. Burrow's feathery 11-yard feed to slot receiver Tyler Boyd got negated by right tackle Riley Reiff's holding call when he tried to take away the inside and it blew up a drive where Jackson Carman replaced Hill. (Carman, on the COVID list until Friday, left later with an illness and Hill was on the field or the Mixon touchdown.)
But the Lions rookie offensive lineman who also started had as many penalties as Hill in the early going. When the Lions when for it on fourth-and-four from the Bengals 38, the Bengals chased Goff out of the pocket and he had to unload an incompletion going out of bounds, so they declined the holding penalty on Sewell, his second of the day.
Yet the Bengals offense had nothing to offer in the first half after that opening drive until the final seconds. On third-and-two they spread out Burrow in an empty backfield and no one blocked outside linebacker Julian Okwara roaring in from Burrow's left for a 10-yard sack.
The Lions had no answers either. With five minutes left in the half, head coach Dan Campbell proved he had nothing to lose and went for it on fourth-and-one from his own 26. They got it on a one-yard scrum, but then gave it right back on third-and-long when Bell and fellow safety Jessie Bates III blitzed Goff into yet another incompletion.
Check out some of the top images between the Bengals and Lions in Week 6 of the 2021 NFL regular season.