The Bengals defense opened the game with some energy -- and even more production.
After the Cowboys were forced to open their first possession from their own 11-yard line (thanks to a special teams hold), Emmanuel Lamur sacked quarterback Tony Romo to the Cowboys one-yard line. A minimal two-yard gain by DeMarco Murry on a nice backside tackle from Michael Johnson led to a third-and-18 from the Cowboys three-yard line with 13:48 remaining in the first quarter.
Romo hit Jason Whitten on a curl route for 11 yards, but the Bengals defense gave the offense plenty of space underneath and made the stop at the original line of scrimmage.
A booming 55-yard punt by Dallas only pushed the Bengals back to their own 31 yard-line, accompanied by a Brandon Tate 11-yard return to their own 42.
Then it was just an efficient offense taking control of the game. A.J. Green made his first reception on second and 11 with 12:25 remaining with a quick slant. BenJarvus Green-Ellis gave Cincinnati the first down with a powerful six-yard run up the middle behind John Conner. Gresham added 11 yards to Cincinnati's 30-yard line and the beat rolled on.
Eventually Cincinnati had a third-and-11 from the Cowboys 20-yard line with 7:26 remaining in the first quarter. Dalton nailed Jones on a crossing pattern, who caught the football, spun away from a tackle and lost the football on the Cowboys four-yard line. Cornerback Brandon Carr recovered the football.