A.J. Green’s sheer dominance over Darrelle Revis was remarkable, but it was a two-man effort that led to Green’s league-leading Week 1 performance.
Andy Dalton, Green’s quarterback, was just as impressive in Week 1, repeatedly picking on the Jets secondary despite being the victim of seven sacks. The quarterback went 23-for-30 with 366 yards, a touchdown and an interception on Sunday. Six of Dalton’s passes went for 20 yards or more, three of which went for at least 40. Tight end C.J. Uzomah, veteran wideout Brandon LaFell and rookie Tyler Boyd all made plays for their quarterback, but none could come close to accomplishing even half of what the Dalton-Green duo managed to achieve in Week 1.
Dalton was 10-for-10 with 152 yards and a touchdown targeting A.J. Green when the receiver was covered by Revis, the seven-time Pro Bowler. Revis didn’t play a bad game; he simply couldn’t stop the tag team, even with help. Despite this, Green and Dalton aren’t getting the credit they deserve — but that’s a story for another day.
“When you've got a guy like A.J., you get the ball around him and he's going to make the catch,” Dalton said in his Wednesday press conference. “[Chemistry] evolves over time, but I would say we're a little better now than we were our first year. I think you start to build that early on.”
Dalton and Green gelled quickly, which was a major reason why the Bengals — a team some expected would be one of the worst teams in the NFL in the duo’s inaugural season — were able to reach the playoffs in 2011, as well as in the following four seasons. Chemistry between a quarterback and his top weapon is vital, as evidenced by the duo of Cincinnati’s upcoming rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“First off, Ben and I both have really talented receivers,” said Dalton when on what goes into the chemistry between a quarterback and his receivers. “And then it just comes with time. I've been with A.J. my whole career, he's been with Antonio for seven years now, I think. So it's just part of the chemistry and building it. When you've got talented players, you get that chemistry. When you're both trying to be good at what you do, you're going to have big plays.”
Dalton and Green made the bigger plays when facing the Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall, and they’ll hope to continue their success in a crucial Week 2 divisional matchup. For as often as the tandem is criticized for not coming up when the lights are on, Dalton and Green often make most of their magic in the fourth quarter.
“That's the point of the game where you have to be at your best,” said Dalton. “If you're wanting to win the game, you've got to get your guys the ball. He's got the mentality that he's going to win every single time out there, and we've been able to get it to him. That's been really good for us. We've been able to get our best guy on the offense the ball, and he's been able to make plays with it.”
In Week 2, the relationship between Dalton and Green will once again be a huge X-factor for the Bengals’ success.
“Any time you go on the road, it's tough to win,” said Dalton. “Everything is stacked up against you, especially in Pittsburgh. It's a division game, their crowd gets into it. You've got to be poised and you've got to play throughout the whole game. One play doesn't determine the game. So you've just got to stick to the game plan, stick to what you're doing and keep grinding it out. It's always tough to get a win there, especially when you're playing against a good team.”
Playing on the road is never easy, but the quarterback seems to embrace the challenge — and his team often responds. With Dalton, the Bengals have won 10 of their past 12 road games during the regular season, often looking dominant in the process.
“I think [it’s] that extra focus,” Dalton said on what has helped the Bengals win so many road games. “You're going, and all you're thinking about is the game. You've got to try to steal games when you go on the road. I think we just have the mentality we're going to do whatever it takes, and that's why we've been able to get some big wins on the road.”
The quarterback and his Bengals will be looking to win another huge game on the road this week — one which, as Dalton understands, will be critical.
“You never know how the schedule is going to play out. For us, we’ve got Pittsburgh in Week 2. Like you said, the winner has a leg up on the division. We expect it to be a good game, and we’re going to do everything we can to try and get a win.”