Joe Burrow led the Cincinnati Bengals to an easy 34-11 road win over the Detroit Lions to improve to 4-2 on the season. Winless on the season, Detroit was a 3.5-point home underdog and didn't even find the end zone until garbage time in the fourth quarter.
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Burrow's PFF passing grade won't clear 80.0 after final reviews, but it was still a very solid performance for the second-year signal-caller. The interception targeting wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase over the middle of the field was ugly, but he also had multiple well-placed deep balls on the day, including multiple deep connections with Chase and another to running back Chris Evans down the left sideline. He finished the game 4-of-8 for 98 yards and a touchdown on throws of 10-plus air yards.
— NFL (@NFL) October 17, 2021
Evans had a highlight-reel touchdown reception early in the game, and starter Joe Mixon had one himself later on. He took a Burrow 4th-and-1 pass 40 yards nearly untouched for a score in the third quarter. Mixon finished the game with five receptions for 59 yards and the touchdown, and he added another 94 yards rushing on his 18 carries. He forced six missed tackles on the ground and gained more than 80 of his rushing yards after contact.
JOE MIXON TO THE HOUSE pic.twitter.com/gtcXK6dcWD
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The Burrow-Chase connection continues to be one of the best in the NFL. Chase caught 4-of-6 targets for 97 yards with one drop. He only had two targets of 10-plus air yards, catching one for 34 yards and dropping the other. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd combined for nine targets, four receptions, 51 receiving yards and zero drops.
Rookie Jackson Carman was carted off the field with an injury early in the third quarter after playing 23 offensive snaps. His replacement, Trey Hill, and center Trey Hopkins were the only two Bengals offensive linemen with sub-60.0 PFF grades on first review. Guard Quinton Spain will likely finish reviews as the highest-graded Cincinnati offensive lineman after putting on a show as a run-blocker against Detroit's front seven. Left tackled Jonah Williams allowed a team-high four total pressures on the day, and no other member of the front five allowed more than two.
Bengals defensive tackle D.J. Reader was the only Cincinnati defensive lineman with a PFF grade above 70.0 on first review of the broadcast film. It simply wasn't a banner day for any of the team's big men in the trenches. Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson recorded six and five total pressures, respectively, and should both finish with 70.0-plus PFF pass-rushing grades.
Second-year Wyoming product Logan Wilson continued his stellar start to the 2021 season with another strong performance. He ripped the ball out of a receiver's hands as he was trying to make the catch and came down with an interception. He also had two tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the game. He should finish reviews with a 90.0-plus PFF grade.
.@ljw21, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN ????
Watch on FOX pic.twitter.com/yUZkdzog5J
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) October 17, 2021
Detroit really struggled to get anything going through the air due in large part that the Bengals' secondary was playing lights out. Veteran Chidobe Awuzie showed as the team's top cornerback, and safety Jessie Bates played a key part in limiting big plays through the air from the Lions' offense.
Jared Goff wasn't awful against Cincinnati, but he was nothing to write home about, either. He completed just 1-of-7 passes that traveled at least 10 yards through the air, limiting the team's ability to create any explosive plays passing. Detroit's wide receivers aren't creating consistent separation, and Goff isn't outperforming the underwhelming supporting cast.
D'Andre Swift found paydirt in garbage time, but the Detroit rushing attack overall struggled. Swift and veteran Jamaal Williams combined for just 35 yards on 17 carries. Swift forced one broken tackle while Williams broke none, and 23 of the 35 yards came after contact. Swift was more efficient as a pass-catcher, hauling in 5-of-7 targets for 43 yards.
Tight end T.J. Hockenson led the team in targets (11), receptions (8) and yards (74) against Cincy. He caught his only contested target, forced one missed tackle after the catch and moved the chains on four of his eight receptions.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai was the only Detroit offensive lineman with a PFF grade under 60.0 on first review, but none of the team's front five recorded grades above 66.0 on the day. Right tackle Matt Nelson was the team's biggest liability in pass protection, as he allowed a team-high six total pressures. Rookie Penei Sewell only allowed two pressures, and only Nelson allowed more along the offensive line.
Defensive tackles John Penisini and Alim McNeill both turned in strong performances against the run, but the duo and the rest of Detroit's defensive line couldn't create consistent pressure on the quarterback. Julian Okwara and Charles Harris shared the team lead in pressures with just three apiece.
Derrick Barnes was really impressive on limited snaps. He recorded nine tackles, one red-zone pass breakup and a 90.0-plus PFF grade on just 33 defensive snaps. Alex Anzalone and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, on the other hand, both earned sub-50.0 PFF grades on first review. Reeves-Maybin was in one-on-one coverage against Evans when he scored the deep touchdown.
Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs gave up more than 100 yards in coverage going up against Chase for most of the day but also added a forced incompletion to his stat line. Amani Oruwariye, who intercepted Burrow on the high pass targeting Chase, was the only other Lions defensive back with more than 10 yards allowed in coverage (37).