There are games in which the Detroit Lions have looked like a competent team that could pull off some major upsets this year. This was not one of those weeks.
The Cincinnati Bengals took the lead seven minutes into the game, and they never came close to giving it up. While the Lions defensive performance kept them in the game until about halftime, the offense put up its worst performance of the year. Jared Goff barely eclipsed 200 yards passing on 42 attempts, while the Lions running game managed just 35 yards on 17 carries.
Defensively, the floodgates opened in the second half, and Ford Field was mostly empty halfway through the fourth quarter. The Lions would kick a late field goal to avoid the shutout, but it didn’t save the Lions from an embarrassing performance all around. When the clock struck zero, the Bengals had 34 to the Lions’ 11, and with the Jaguars win earlier in the day, Detroit will enter Week 7 as the NFL lone winless team.
Here’s how it all happened.
Detroit got the ball first and their offense had an uninspiring start. Two penalties pushed the Lions backward before a quick three-and-out. The Bengals quickly cashed in thanks to two third-down conversions. On the first, Joe Burrow found Tee Higgins for a 14-yard gain on third-and-9. On the second, former Michigan running back Chris Evans juked Jalen Reeves-Maybin out of his shoes, and Burrow found him for a 24-yard score. 7-0 Bengals.
Detroit’s offense remained in neutral as two T.J. Hockenson catches went for just 7 yards and the Lions punted after another three-and-out. The Bengals responded with a little self-destruction of their own. Penalties pushed them to a third-and-20, and Burrow’s conversion attempt bounced off Ja’Marr Chase hands and into Amani Oruwairye’s hands for the interception. A taunting penalty on Tracy Walker erased the return, but the pick stood:
But the Lions gave the ball right back. After a sack, Jared Goff found Amon-Ra St. Brown for a big gain, but the rookie receiver had the ball ripped from him as he was going to the ground and the loose ball landed in a Bengals defender’s hands. Initially ruled a catch and down, the refs reviewed it and determined it was an interception.
Detroit’s defense responded with a quick three-and-out to give the ball back to the Lions offense to start the second quarter.
The Lions offense started to get moving to start the second quarter, but, again, struggled in opponent’s territory. On a third-and-6, Goff overthrew an open T.J. Hockenson on a wheel route. The Lions opted to go for it on fourth-and-6 from the Bengals 38, but Goff couldn’t find anyone open and eventually threw the ball away.
The Bengals couldn’t take advantage of the turnover on downs, as the Lions quickly got the ball back when Julian Okwara’s sack forced a punt:
The Lions would be backed up inside their own 10-yard line thanks to a special teams penalty on Tom Kennedy. The Lions would pick up a couple first downs—including a risky fourth-and-1 from their own 26-yard line—but couldn’t muster much else, punting the ball back to the Bengals after just 20 yards gained.
Both teams would trade three-and-outs, giving the Bengals the last possession with 1:21 left and two timeouts. Detroit’s defense would stand tall, but a 34-yard pass to Ja’Marr Chase put the Bengals in field goal position.
Kicker Evan McPherson knocked on through to make it 10-0 Bengals at the half.
The Bengals broke open the game on the first drive of the third quarter. Facing a fourth-and-inches, the Bengals ran a play-action play that had the entire Lions defense fooled. Burrow found a wide-open Joe Mixon for a 40-yard score. 17-0 Bengals.
Detroit’s offense went no-huddle to try and get a spark, but that, too, didn’t work. A third-and-1 run came up short, and while the Lions planned to go for it again on fourth down, Jonah Jackson committed a false start. The Lions punted, instead.
Cincy started to grind the Lions defense down. Mixon and Evans got the Bengals into field goal position, but they stalled in the red zone after back-to-back Burrow passing attempts fell incomplete. McPherson tacked another three to the score, pushing it to 20-0 Bengals.
The Lions got one good play out of a Goff—a 33-yard strike to T.J. Hockenson—but that was it as the Lions offense quickly found their way off the field after incomplete passes to Jamaal Williams and St. Brown.
Another big strike from Burrow to Chase put the Bengals offense back in scoring territory as this game moved to its final quarter.
Three plays later, Burrow lobbed a jump ball to tight end C.J. Uzomah who grabbed the 3-yard touchdown over Dean Marlowe. 27-0 Bengals.
The Lions would add a garbage time field goal and touchdown late in the fourth quarter. However, the defense allowed a score against backup Bengals player. Final score: 34-11 Bengals.