You’ll be told often in football that a mark of good teams is the ability to soundly beat bad teams. The Lions, by any definition, have been a bad team to this point in the 2021 season. Their loss to the Bengals drops them to 0-6, leaving them with sole possession of the worst record in the NFL after the Jaguars’ victory in London on Sunday.
This wasn’t just another loss for them, however – in a game pegged by many as a great chance for them to earn their first win of the season, the Bengals went to Detroit and beat them more convincingly than any team earlier on the schedule. The Lions amassed a paltry 228 total yards on offense, scored 11 points, and lost by a margin of 23. All three numbers are their worst marks of the season.
Does any of this necessarily mean that the Bengals are a good team? No, but they’re now 4-2 on the season after having just flattened a bad team against the bottom of a trash can and they have a chance to take the lead in the AFC North next week in Baltimore. They sure might be a good team.
Chris Evans reprised his role as Human Torch from the 2005 movie Fantastic Four, burning linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin on an outside-release go route for a touchdown on the Bengals’ opening drive. Overall, Evans hauled in all 3 of his targets for 49 receiving yards while also contributing 18 rushing yards on 4 carries, for a total of 67 yards from scrimmage. It was a great effort by the rookie sixth-round pick to (more than) compensate for the unavailability of Samaje Perine.
- The rest of the first half, by and large, was the kind of football that puts most viewers to sleep. Joe Burrow and the offense moved the ball a meager 32 yards through their next four drives, which totaled one first down, one interception, and zero points. Trey Hill – filling in for Jackson Carman at right guard -earned holding and false start penalties on consecutive plays. Riley Reiff committed a holding penalty of his own on the next drive. Both instances nullified what would’ve been first-down gains for the offense.
- Burrow’s lone interception came on a pass that hit Ja’Marr Chase in the hands before being deflected to Lions defensive back Amani Oruwariye. This came one drive Chase got his hand on another (admittedly, much more errant) pass that he ended up volleying into the air for several seconds in front of the Lions’ defense.
- The critical difference between the two teams was that – in the second half – the Bengals’ offense showed up. Joe Mixon ran out of the gate in the 3rd quarter with a 14-yard carry before taking a short pass later that same drive for a 40-yard touchdown. The Lions responded with nothing offensively, while the Bengals were able to maintain their momentum through the quarter and raise their 10-0 halftime lead to 27-0.
- Unlike the Bengals’ offense, the Lions’ wasn’t able to move the ball whatsoever until the game was out of reach. As a unit, the Bengals’ defense held the Lions to 228 total yards – their lowest total of the year (the Ravens and Vikings held them to 285 and 288, respectively). Quarterback Jared Goff barely passed for over 200 yards on 42 attempts, threw an interception. Second-year runner D’Andre Swift averaged a pitiable 1.8 yards per carry on 13 rushes.
Trey Hendrickson bullied rookie left tackle Penei Sewell en route to another solid outing, adding a sack to bring his season total to 5.5 through 6 games. Logan Wilson added a pair of tackles-for-loss and an interception to his already-impressive season totals.
- Honestly, the box score doesn’t exaggerate here. No player on the Bengals’ defense had a notably bad game. As anything other than a Bengals fan, their snaps against the Lions’ offense would be difficult to watch.
– Andy Hammel is the Managing Editor for the Bengals at Full Press Coverage. Follow @Andy_Hammel