After being doubted because of recent inconsistencies, the Cincinnati Bengals put on what was arguably its best offensive performance of the season Sunday at Buffalo. Andy Dalton looked more accurate, throwing the ball into tight spaces, and finished with a completion percentage of 65 percent.
The receiving corps did its part to help Dalton look good, with AJ Green making an astonishing touchdown catch over his head and got both feet down despite the attempt of Bill’s cornerback Leodis Mckelvin to push him out. I predicted AJ and Andy would finally be on the same page and the duo would have their best game of the season, and I was right. Green finished on the day with six receptions for 103 yards and a score.
Rookie running back Giovani Bernard continues to impress and show his versatility. He did not have his best rushing game, only having 28 yards on 15 carries, but he showed off his Ray Rice-like capabilities of receiving out of the backfield, grabbing six receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown, where he juked and faked out defenders to find his way into the end zone.
Even though Andy Dalton made smarter decisions with the football on Sunday than he has the past few weeks, he still had a few mistakes. He threw an interception just shy of the two minute warning in the second quarter to Jim Leonhard on a pass intended for AJ Green. A few of Dalton’s interceptions this season have been because of mistakes by the receivers, but this one falls on the shoulders of Dalton. He should have seen that Leohnard was clearly in the lane between himself and Green. After the play, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was clearly upset with Dalton as they exchanged heated words on the sidelines.
Receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu stepped up and had some of their best games of the 2013 season on sunday. Jones had his third career receiving touchdown, and Sanu had his second highest yards total on the year with five receptions for 44 yards. Jones would finish with three receptions for 71 yards.
As if this offense did not already have enough weapons for quarterback Andy Dalton, slot receiver Andrew Hawkins is nearing his return from the IR-designated to return list. He began running routes with the team at practice this week and is officially able to play starting week nine. Defenses already have enough trouble devising a game plan to cover AJ Green and the other dynamic players on this Bengals’ receiving corps, and with Hawkins returning they will just have another obstacle. Hawkins is a great slot receiver with great hands, who is elusive and can make defenders miss.
The Bengals are known for their defense and having one of the best defensive lines in the league. But if the offense can build off of the progress they made in the overtime win against Buffalo this week, this team will be making noise down the stretch and into the playoffs.
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