CINCINNATI (AP)Joe Burrow was scrambling and throwing touchdown passes to Ja’Marr Chase again, just in time to keep the Bengals from letting the season slip away.
The Cincinnati quarterback looked unfettered by a lingering right calf injury, and receiver Chase had one of his best days as a pro in the 34-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Bengals improved to 2-3 amid signs they might be returning to the form that made them AFC North champions the past two years. They scored a first-half touchdown for the first time this season. The three Burrow-to-Chase touchdowns matched the team’s total TD output in the first four games combined.
“We’re taking a step closer to who we really are,” Chase said. “We keep facing adversity this year. It’s not going to be an easy season. Right now, we’ll just take it step by step.”
Burrow strained a calf muscle on July 27, and it limited his mobility through the first four games. On Sunday, he was 36 for 46 for 317 yards with three TDs and an interception and scrambled for a first down.
“He was in kill mode from the get-go,” said receiver Trenton Irwin, who had eight catches for 60 yards filling in for the injured Tee Higgins.
“From the get-go you could see it,” Irwin said. “It was cool to see it, cool to have him scamper for a first down when he hadn’t done it in a while. You could see it in his eyes though. We were feeding off that, and everyone in the whole huddle was hyped.”
The passing game seems to be back on track or getting there. In the third quarter, Burrow let fly with his longest pass of the season, hitting Chase in stride for a 63-yard touchdown and a 10-point Cincinnati lead. It was the longest pass in the air (58.1 yards) of the fourth-year quarterback’s career, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
“It’s something I haven’t been able to do for the last couple of weeks,” Burrow said. “When your quarterback can’t do that, can’t steal first downs, can’t extend plays, can’t find guys downfield, it’s tough to move the ball. So it felt good today, and I’m going to continue to get healthier, and I’m excited about that.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Bengals are still struggling to run the ball. Joe Mixon got the ball 25 times and averaged 3.2 yards per carry, with a long of 10 yards. Near the end of the first half, the Bengals had second-and-goal from the Arizona 4. Mixon ran the ball three times and couldn’t score, with Cincinnati turning the ball over on downs.
Meanwhile, the Bengals defense is missing too many tackles and struggling to stop the run.
Chase’s 15 catches broke the single-game franchise record held by Carl Pickens, who had 13 on Oct. 11, 1998, against the Steelers. Chase finished with 192 receiving yards. Cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, who was limited in practice the previous week because of the concussion protocol, intercepted Josh Dobbs and ran it back for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Bengals a 17-14 halftime lead.
Mixon has been the workhorse back, while those behind him on the depth chart mostly haven’t been a factor. Trayveon Williams, Chris Evans and Chase Brown have combined for just eight carries for 34 yards.
Higgins remains out with a rib injury. CB Chidobe Awuzie missed Sunday’s game with a back injury. His status is not clear.
373 – Bengals’ rushing yards through five games, ranking 29th entering Monday night.
Cincinnati hosts Seattle before a bye week.
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