The Cincinnati Bengals defense opened the game with an aggressive defense, highlighted by Geno Atkins and Domata Peko fighting through blocks, dropping Michael Turner on a four and one-yard loss respectively. Through two possessions, quarterback Matt Ryan completed his first six passes, but only for 36 yards with 21 of those yards applied to Tony Gonzalez during Atlanta's first possession of the evening. Regardless Cincinnati's defense has only allowed one first down with a one of three third down conversion rate allowed.
The Bengals offense started another opening possession slow, but with a little help this time around. After Andy Dalton threw an incomplete out of bounds on third down, the Falcons were called for roughing the quarterback giving Cincinnati a free set of downs. It didn't matter. Brian Leonard fumbled the football on first contact after exploiting a massive hole up the middle. Cincinnati's defense forced the three-and-out.
Yet much like their effort against the Jets, Cincinnati gained momentum during their second possession. On third-and-six from their own 16-yard line, Dalton hit tight end Jermaine Gresham on a quick out. The tight end shed off one tackle, spun away from another and finally went down after an ankle tackle on the 25-yard reception. Gresham left the game and didn't return during Cincinnati's possession.
Eventually the Bengals offense stalled at Atlanta's 36-yard line after Dalton overthrew a deep pass to A.J. Green through the back of the endzone. Mike Nugent came into the game and crushed a 54-yard field goal to give Cincinnati a 3-0 lead.