DETROIT –– When the Cincinnati Bengals went more than 20 minutes of game time without a first down and had another third-and-long, quarterback Joe Burrow threw a 34-yard pass down the right sideline to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
In the Bengals’ last chance to score before halftime, Burrow made the bet that Chase could get open and put the team in field goal range. Chase made it work, and the Bengals took a double-digit lead into halftime.
The Bengals (4-2) beat the Lions, 34-11, on Sunday at Ford Field. Aside from Burrow, no one has played a bigger role in Cincinnati’s winning record than Chase.
When the Bengals picked Chase in the 2021 NFL draft, they took the chance that a wide receiver who can stretch the field could make a bigger difference than a starting offensive lineman. On Sunday, the Bengals offensive line made some of its worst plays of the year, and their starting right guard was benched in the first half.
As a result, after Burrow opened the game with a 24-yard touchdown throw to running back Chris Evans, the Bengals got just one first down on their next four drives. Burrow called another deep pass to Chase before halftime, and Chase created enough separation for a contested first down catch at the 26-yard line.
The Bengals took a 10-0 lead at halftime, and then Chase played a role on the touchdown after halftime. On 4th-and-inches from the Lions 40-yard line, Burrow threw a play action pass to running back Joe Mixon.
Two blocks from Chase turned Mixon’s reception into a touchdown. While Mixon was running down the right sideline, Chase sealed off Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs. Then Chase leveled Lions safety Will Harris with a block using his shoulder, which allowed Mixon to reach the end-zone.
At the end of the third quarter, Chase made a 53-yard reception over the middle of the field. Burrow finished with a 19-for-29 passing line for 271 yards, and Chase had a team-high 97 receiving yards.
Through six games, Chase is averaging more than 90 receiving yards. Facing a winless Lions team, the Bengals got more validation that Chase was the right choice with the No. 5 pick.
Lions left tackle Penei Sewell was on the board when the Bengals picked in the draft, and Sewell was the tackle the Bengals passed on selecting when they drafted Chase. While Chase played like a future Pro Bowler, Sewell looked like a rookie.
On the first series of the game, Sewell committed a false start and a holding call against Bengals edge rusher Trey Hendrickson. Hendrickson had a sack, a quarterback hit, and a tackle for loss in the first half, and Sewell didn’t stop him.
The Lions were already missing their two best receivers and their two best offensive linemen, and Detroit’s offense continued to look like one of the worst in the NFL.
The Lions didn’t get a first down until the second quarter, and they didn’t get past the Bengals 35-yard line before the Bengals took a three-score lead. The strength of the Bengals so far this season has been the defense, and linebacker Logan Wilson led the group with his team-high fourth interception of the defense.
Last year, the Bengals didn’t have a player with more than three interceptions or 5.5 sacks. Wilson already has four picks this year, and Hendrickson already has 5.5 sacks.
The Lions had lost on game-winning field goals in two of their last three games, but the Bengals had their most lopsided win since 2017.