Since posting 322 yards and scoring 13 points against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football, the Bengals have scored 34, 38 and 27 since. And all but seven of those points were either scored or enabled by Cincinnati's offense (do you really want to talk semantics about field goals and PATs being special teams scores?).
Now against the Jacksonville Jaguars Andy Dalton's targeting system was slightly misaligned, throwing a pass that shrugged off Chris Pressley's fingertips, which led to an interception. Granted. It didn't hurt because Andre Smith recovered the fumble. And yet eventually Dalton settled down, completing 13 of 17 passes for 183 yards passing and a touchdown combined between the second and third quarters -- the same quarter that A.J. Green lost his mind with four receptions for 57 yards receiving.
Yes. It's typical all season. When the Bengals offense struggles, Dalton wisely shifts towards A.J. Green when opposing defenses mind-bogglingly leave the stud wide receiver in single coverage, which has happened more than we expected this year. Yet none of that matters if Dalton isn't feeling comfortable in the pocket. Zero sacks produced by the Jaguars defense and the laundry has one less article of clothing to be washed (seriously? It's sweaty).
As for the rushing offense, the struggles continue. If not for a 48-yard sprint by Cedric Peerman on a planned (PLANNED!) fake punt, the Bengals fall 10 yards short of the 100-yard milestone while only averaging 2.7 yards/rush. Further compounding the struggles is BenJarvus Green-Ellis losing a fumble on the goalline, which led to three Jacksonville points. Yet it would be the last time Jacksonville scored and Green-Ellis shifted into a clock-killing workhorse with 10 fourth quarter carries.
Offensively the Bengals are finding their consistency but are seriously lacking on third downs, converting only two of 11 against the Jaguars and 13 of 47 this season.
BENGALS DEFENSE RACKETS UP: It really wasn't just a single player that contributed against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday. It was Geno Atkins' domination against Jacksonville's offensive guards, generating two quarterback sacks and six pressures. It was Vontaze Burfict's effort with a team-leading eight tackles, two for loss and a quarterback sack in only his fourth career game and second start. Terence Newman allowing only two receptions against six passes that were targeted against receivers he was covering.
It was a total team effort that restricted Jacksonville to only 212 total yards, improving their average by 51.2 yards/game and jumping 10 spots in the defensive rankings. And after sacking the quarterback only five times in the opening two games, Cincinnati's pass rush has combined for 12 sacks against the Redskins and Jaguars.
Cincinnati's defense may have generated some concern early, but if they wipe out trends and tendencies that opened the season, you can point to this performance playing their most complete game yet.
TRICKERATION IS THE NEW SENSATION: For the second time in as many weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals faked a special teams kick. And that doesn't include the Mohamed Sanu touchdown throw. At some point we're going to witness a game-opening onside kick after the Bengals defer the coin toss. That being said have you ever felt as comfortable as you do today when Mike Nugent lines up for a field goal? Against the Jacksonville Jaguars the sure-footed kicker converted two 35-yarders, splitting the uprights.
But of course the latest trickeration is the one tattooed into our short-term memories with Cedric Peerman taking a direct snap on fourth down from Cincinnati's 24-yard line.