The Cincinnati Bengals improved to 4-2 on Sunday with a great all-around performance against the Detroit Lions. The Bengals were able to keep pace with the leaders in the AFC ahead of their big showdown against the Baltimore Ravens next week.
Before moving on though, here are the biggest surprises from Sunday.
Ja’Marr Chase did NOT catch a touchdown pass
Alright, so usually it is more surprising when a player makes a great play, but Ja’Marr Chase has established himself as such a staple in the two-minute drill, that when Chase was not on the receiving end of a touchdown catch it was a little shocking.
Now, to be fair he had plenty of big-time catches that helped set up scoring drives, but Joe Burrow was able to spread the ball around to some new faces that found the endzone, including Chris Evans, who scored the first touchdown of his career.
What Chase did do was end any debate for the season over the Bengals draft pick. While I still think Penei Sewell will develop into a great player, Chase was all around the better player.
Beyond just this game, Chase is having an amazing season, should be the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and is a key cog in the Cincinnati Bengals having talks about making a playoff run.
Running backs stepped up in the passing game
Fans knew they had a special pair at running back in Joe Mixon and Chris Evans. Now the world knows about Evans and the rare talent he is. Catching his first career touchdown catch, Evans sparked the Bengals offense early in this game, and let the defense have a little breathing room.
Mixon added a touchdown of his own later on. With all the talk about how talented the wide receiver room is, adding the running backs in the passing game makes this team even more dangerous moving forward.
Run defense controlled the game
The Bengals were lights out on the defensive side of the ball. The Lions had 36 yards rushing. Total. That could easily be an individual run for D’Andre Swift, but Cincinnati was able to contain him all day.
This allowed the team to completely control the game and dictate what Detroit could and could not do. This is going to be a huge test next week when the Bengals take on the Ravens, so gaining additional confidence in their ability to stop the run will be big.
Bengals continue to make big plays on defense that change the game.
Cincinnati not only held the Lions to low yardage, but they made big plays when they needed to. Key fourth-down stops before the game was over, sacks, forcing opposing penalties, and turnovers allowed the Bengals to take complete control.
Logan Wilson recorded another interception (but the credit really needs to go to Vonn Bell for forcing the ball loose) while Trey Hendrickson continues to show that last year was no fluke and live in the opposing team backfield.
Over the last few years, this was a game the Bengals win close or end up losing. It was encouraging seeing the Bengals assert their dominance from start to finish, especially before a huge matchup with the Ravens coming up next week.