ANALYSIS: 5 takeaways from Bengals bounce-back win over Lions

Cincinnati moves to 4-2, matches last season’s win total

The Cincinnati Bengals bounced back from their disappointing loss to Green Bay by cruising to a blowout win at Detroit.

After the overtime loss last week, the Bengals left no room for doubt this time, rolling to a 34-11 win over the Lions on Sunday at Ford Field. Detroit (0-6) has played several close games to fall short of its first win under coach Dan Campbell, but fell behind 27-0 before getting on the board in the fourth quarter to prevent the shutout.

Cincinnati (4-2) heads to Baltimore (5-1) this week to continue its three-game road stretch.

Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s win:

1. Sloppy first half

The Bengals started and finished the first half well but struggled on the four drives in between scoring on the opening and final possessions before halftime.

Joe Burrow threw an interception on the second drive, and the offense went three-and-out on the next three before a field goal as time expired gave Cincinnati a 10-0 halftime lead. Penalties played a factor in that first half. Rookie sixth-round pick Trey Hill, who started at right guard with Jackson Carman only coming off the COVID list Friday, had back-to-back penalties with a holding call and false start before Burrow’s interception.

Right tackle Riley Reiff also was called for a hold on the next drive, negating a Tyler Boyd catch that would have moved the chains on third down. Instead, the Bengals were backed up and ended up not being able to convert a third-and-17.

On the next possession, Burrow was sacked on third-and-2, and the Bengals failed to convert a third-and-3 before punting a third time. Cincinnati cleaned up those mistakes in the second half.

2. Offense takes off

The Bengals offense enjoyed its highest-scoring performance of the season, despite the slow start.

Cincinnati got on the board its opening possession on a great route by running back Chris Evans, who Burrow hit in stride for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 8:26 left in the first quarter. The Bengals stalled out from there until the final series of the first half when Burrow once again went deep to Ja’Marr Chase to convert a third-and-10 with a 34-yard pass to move to the Detroit 26-yard line.

McPherson finished off the drive with a 38-yard field goal as time expired, and the Bengals got the ball to start the second half and scored on every drive.

Just like Evans contributed in the first half, running back Joe Mixon got involved in the passing game, scoring on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Burrow on the first drive of the second half with the help of a great block by Chase. The running backs were a big factor Sunday overall. Mixon finished with 18 carries for 94 yards, Evans had his first carries with four rushes for 18 yards to go along with three catches for 49 yards, and Trayveon Williams, up from the practice squad with Samaje Perine on the COVID list, had six carries for 13 yards to help close out the game.

The offense converted eight of 15 third downs (53.3 percent) to improve an area in which the Bengals were struggling at 37.3 percent prior to this game. And Burrow was able to finish the game on the bench with Brandon Allen coming in midway through the fourth quarter with a 27-3 lead. Allen led a scoring drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass to Auden Tate.

3. Defense dominates

The defense made it impossible for Detroit to come back even after the Lions were trailing just 10-0 at halftime.

Detroit didn’t score until Austin Seibert kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter, and the lone touchdown came on a D’Andre Swift run with 2:15 left. The Lions finished with just 228 yards of offense and 133 of those were on the final two drives.

Logan Wilson intercepted Jared Goff in the first quarter after he threw a pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown and the ball was popped out before St. Brown could gain control. Originally, it was ruled a catch and he was down by contact, but the Bengals won the challenge.

The Lions managed just 36 yards rushing. Goff had 202 yards passing with one sack by Trey Hendrickson.

4. McPherson bounces back

McPherson hit the upright on his first PAT – in an indoor facility -- and it might have been worrisome he was going to be showing lingering mental struggles after missing two game-winning field goal chances last week against the Packers.

That ended up not being an issue. McPherson put a 38-yard field goal right down the middle to cap the first half, and he added a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter en route to a perfect day.

McPherson had missed three of his last four field goal attempts over the previous two games after being perfect through the first three games. The rookie missed a 57-yard try in the fourth quarter against Green Bay and a 49-yard try in overtime.

5. Matching last year’s win total

The Bengals already have matched last year’s win total in six games, but they want to keep building on their early success and especially carry that momentum into the rest of their AFC North competition. They are 1-0 in the division so far after beating Pittsburgh on the road in Week 3, but now they head to Baltimore for another big road game.

The last time the Bengals went 4-2 in 2018, they only finished 6-10. The back end of the schedule has some challenging matchups but the first half of the schedule features five of the eight road games, and this three-game road stretch, capped with a game at the New York Jets on Oct. 31, will be important for setting Cincinnati in a good position going into the Nov. 7 home game against the Browns going into the bye week.

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