They're off the schneid. After never traveling to the city of Oakland and winning a football game, the Cincinnati Bengals marched to the West Coast and were on a mission to remedy the situation. Nearly every facet was working well for the Orange and Black, as they completely dismantled the Silver and Black on their home turf.
It's close to the time where we transition to the next week's matchup, but before we do, we need to take one last look at the best and worst from the afternoon.
Andy Dalton: If it weren't for a couple of drops by A.J. Green and a tough one by Tyler Eifert, Dalton might have had one of the best games of his career. Even without an extra touchdown and about 50 yards on those two plays, Dalton's performance against the Raiders was still up there for career-bests. He hit six different receivers on 25-of-34 passing and 269 yards. He was clearly comfortable having all of his weapons available at his disposal and was quite decisive when plays broke down.
Tyler Eifert: Now you see why so many claim that his return would bring a major lift to the offense. The big tight end was downright unstoppable on Sunday, whether is was DJ Hayden, Charles Woodson or a linebacker attempting to cover him. Eifert often found soft spots in the defense, while logging his first 100-yard receiving game of his career to go along with two touchdowns, which ties his single-season career best.
The Running Backs: While none of the three major backs had an insane day, all three did exactly what they do best and were big contributors to the win. To the Raiders' credit, they had a decent game plan going into the day--stop Jeremy Hill and make Dalton beat you. They partially succeeded by holding No. 32 to just 3.3 yards per carry, but he continuously got the tough yards, especially on his two touchdowns. After a slow start, Giovani Bernard looked excellent and really gashed a tired defense. He had as many rushing yards as Hill (63) on 11 less carries and added 25 more receiving yards on six catches. Rex Burkhead also got into the action with a nice 24-yard snag on a wheel route on third down. I imagine it was exactly how Hue Jackson drew it up.
The Offensive Line: The big hogs up front performed quite well on Sunday. Clint Boling had one of his best games as a pro, while the rest of the crew didn't allow a sack on Dalton. They also helped to pave the way for a 127-yard team rushing effort and constantly pushed back the Raiders' line. Two facets kept their performance from being truly excellent: some holding penalties on the interior of the line and the inability to stop Justin Tuck from batting down passes.
The Defensive Line: Geno Atkins looked like his old self once again, and both Carlos Dunlap and Domata Peko were active up front. Michael Johnson flashed here and there while also grabbing a fumble recovery, but didn't look full speed on that knee when chasing down certain plays. Still, the group held the Raiders to just 62 rushing yards as a team and garnered two sacks.
Turnover Differential: Through the first three preseason games when the starters got the most action, the Bengals' defense didn't force a turnover. They were plus-two on Sunday, thanks to an interception and a fumble by backup quarterback Matt McGloin and none given up by the offense. There are very few instances a team loses a football game when being two up on the opposition in turnovers.
The Secondary: They swarmed, they frustrated and got in the faces of the Raiders passing weapons. No receiver cracked the 50-yard mark on the day and the biggest play they let up was a 24-yard pass to Amari Cooper. Dre Kirkpatrick looked comfortable in his first game as a true starter and Adam Jones was an animal (more on that later). Even Darqueze Dennard had three tackles, both on defense and special teams. The safeties had a good day from a production standpoint, with Reggie Nelson grabbing an interception and George Iloka laying the wood, but penalties and injuries were a concern.
Some Stats: Oakland didn't have a play in Bengals territory until the fourth quarter, Cincinnati had almost double the amount of yards per passing play (7.9 to 4.1) than the Raiders, while Cincinnati also got points on each one of their six red zone trips (two field goals, four touchdowns).
Brandon Tate: Everyone's favorite whipping boy was in full effect again on Sunday. He had a near muffed punt on a fair catch early in the game and was awful in his two kickoff returns. So awful, in fact, that he averaged 3.5 yards per kickoff return. Three point five. In most any other game, this would have been devastating for the Bengals.
Justin Tuck: As mentioned earlier, the Bengals' offensive line did a pretty good job throughout the day. However, one guy who kept making a mess of things was Tuck. He had five total tackles, two tipped passes at the line and blocked an extra point. The line will need to get this in check going forward.
Third Down Conversions: We get it--the Bengals eased up at the end of the game. Still, starters played until the end and Cincinnati only converted on four third down tries on the day. Their 30 percent conversion rate on third down needs to rise a bit, though most of the issues were in the second half when the Bengals had a huge lead.
A Bit Of Fool's Gold?: Cincinnati was the better team and dominated, no question. However, the Raiders only had their starting quarterback for a quarter and a half, while their backup was responsible for both of the team's turnovers. Derek Carr wasn't doing much when he was in, but the game might have been a bit different had he not been injured.
The Personal Fouls: The Raiders have a bit of a reputation for crossing the line in terms of clean play in their franchise's history, but it was the Bengals who were the bad boys on Sunday. Iloka, while fired up after a big hit on Cooper, unwisely stomped around him and caught the ire of the referees to extend an early Raiders drive. Adam Jones unleashed the inner animal too and if this were most any other game, these penalties would have devastated the Bengals. We've talked about the team channeling the inner bully and playing with attitude, but that isn't inferring them to play stupid or dirty football.
Adam Jones' Slamming Of Amari Cooper's Head: It's been well-chronicled by now and Jones is likely to receive a hefty fine. While some think the rookie wideout asked for some retaliation because of a downfield punch/straight-arm to Jones' throat, it was the Bengals' corner who looked like the young hot-head and not the savvy veteran. These kinds of penalties won't fly when facing the bigs of the AFC North.
Marcel Reece And The Letting Off Of The Gas Pedal: Look, NFL teams aren't going to get five-touchdown shutouts often and every team has a sense of pride. However, when Marvin Lewis elected to leave many of his starters in to the end of the game, you'd figure the Bengals' defense would stand firm as they had all day. As it was, the versatile Raiders fullback took advantage with two late touchdown receptions. They were throwaway points while they played the "prevent" defense, but it would have been nice to see the veterans keep their focus and tenacity they displayed for over three quarters.
A.J. Green's Touchdown Drop: I'm a big Green defender, but this one was inexcusable. Dalton masterfully used a pump-fake to lay one in Green's breadbasket after he had a step on the defender and No. 18 just missed it. The timing of the play couldn't have been worse, given Green's signing of a mega-extension just two days prior. Fans jump down Dalton's throat for missing certain throws, but this one was on the money and the start wide receiver has to make the play. Green did atone a bit throughout the game with other nice catches and finished with five for 63 yards.
Wasting Timeouts On Offense: I love Hue Jackson's penchant for being creative, but the team burned three timeouts on offense early in halves because they were confused. Either Jackson needs to be more clear on the play and substitutions, or his unit needs to spend more time with film and in their playbooks to get things right. Those are needed at the end of halves to secure points and/or get the ball back, so burning through them so early could be crushing against better foes.