CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Anthony Collins #73 celebrates with Jermaine Gresham #84 of the Cincinnati Bengals after Gresham scored a touchdown during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns Stadium season opener on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Wasn't the Bengals offense supposed to be largely ineffective in the season opener? With four rookies starting on offense yesterday (tight end Colin Cochart was in on the first offensive play), the Bengals weren't supposed to move the ball at all, right? Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the game was the Bengals' offensive success early in the game. They looked calm and composed, putting the Browns in a big hole early in the game. The early successes would prove to be huge in the game's final result.
Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton engineered three straight scoring drives on the team's first three possessions. The Bengals used the short fields that the Browns gave them to take advantage of scoring opportunities. On their first possession, Dalton moved them down the field and set up a chip-shot field goal attempt for kicker Mike Nugent and he put it through the uprights from 24 yards out.
Dalton then led the team down on their next possession to give himself his first NFL touchdown pass when he found Jermaine Gresham in the end zone. Cincyjungle's own Jason Garrison broke down the play. Following that, the Bengals drove down again to give Nugent another field goal opportunity. This one wasn't a "gimme" at all, but that didn't stop him from nailing a 49-yarder to give the Bengals a 13-0 lead.
According to Joe Reedy's Twitter account, these three consecutive scores to start an Opening Day marked the first time in Bengal's history that this achievement was reached:
Yesterday marked first time in #bengals history they had opened the season with scores on their first three drives
So, Andy Dalton, the quarterback that was supposed to struggle mightily in his NFL debut, took the Bengals offense to a place that no other Bengals quarterback has taken them before on Opening Day. He's got one up one his predecessor's--and it was only in his first two quarters in his NFL career.