After a dreadful performance last week against Tampa Bay, Cincinnati's first-team offense pieced together a 16-play touchdown drive, led by quarterback Andy Dalton who converted all six passes into completions for 52-yards passing. Faced with a first-and-goal from the Bears' three-yard line with 6:21 remaining in the first quarter, the Bengals attempted to pound the football with three consecutive Jeremy Hill runs.
Hue Jackson called Andy Dalton's number on a quarterback sneak, and after a few seconds of indecisions from the officials, they raised their hands indicating a touchdown. Dalton was conservatively pulled from the game due to a neck injury.
Entering the game on the team's second possession with 14:47 remaining in the second quarter, backup quarterback AJ McCarron completed his first six passes for 87 yards passing, including a 31-yard touchdown throw to Marvin Jones with 4:40 remaining in the second quarter... And this was after a 42-yard completion to Jones was called back from an Andrew Whitworth offensive hold.
What a TD!! A 31 yard throw to Jones, who navigates (and then powers) into the endzone. https://t.co/hJRYvu77RZ— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 30, 2015
After a three-and-out, McCarron led Cincinnati's first-team offense on two touchdown drives, giving the Bengals an early 21-0 lead late into the third quarter. Eventually, the starters were replaced by backups, most of whom went against Chicago's starters deep into the third quarter. With McCarron at quarterback, the second and third team units struggled with three punts (one of which was blocked and returned for a Bears touchdown) and a Cedric Peerman turnover, prior to Keith Wenning's entry midway into the fourth quarter.
On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati's defense was in mid-season domination. Jay Cutler completed five passes with 6:24 remaining in the second, but only accumulated 40 yards, forcing constant check downs and relying on a Matt Forte running game that couldn't break free. Eventually Chicago, after being forced to punt on their first four possessions of the game, pieced together a nine-play drive and a last minute field goal, reducing Cincinnati's 21-3 lead prior to halftime to a 21-10 lead.
Geno Atkins displayed unbelievable strength and speed, disrupting mostly every play the Bears called, on the ground and through the air. Carlos Dunlap had an impact with speed rushes, generating a sack and applying pressure off the edges throughout the first half.
Just watch Geno. https://t.co/GWNqfcSY4M— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 30, 2015
Chris Carter with another sack... but watch Geno too. https://t.co/nDBMfTYmCJ— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 30, 2015
However, the storyline was clearly the emergence of McCarron in the first half, playing against Chicago's starters, surrounded with Cincinnati's first-team weapons. It wasn't until the 12:19 mark in the third quarter when McCarron recorded his first incomplete pass; a throw-away under pressure. McCarron's numbers could have been even more impressive without penalties negating a 42-yard Jones reception, as well as a 27-yard screen to Cedric Peerman.
Placekicker Mike Nugent converted his first PAT after missing the first two games with a bum hamstring.
Russell Bodine sucked.
Dre Kirkpatrick departed momentarily, holding his hand, before returning later in the second quarter.
Adam Jones had some nice shots on receivers, though they were usually after the completion.
Jake Fisher struggled in his debut; he was called for two illegal formation fouls, negating a 27-yard Cedric Peerman screen and an AJ McCarron scramble, both of which generated first downs. Fisher wasn't particularly impressive as a blocker either.
Chris Carter, who had a quarterback sack early in the game, nearly had a second but a Josh Shaw illegal contact negated it.
Margus Hunt played with the twos, and played several third down snaps at defensive tackle. There were some pressures.
P.J. Dawson entered the game with a nice open-field tackle during a wide receiver screen.
The captains for the evening were quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receivers A.J. Green and Brandon Tate, cornerback Adam Jones and defensive end Carlos Dunlap.
Coin Toss: The Bengals won the coin toss and elected to defer.