CINCINNATI -- It’s hard to say anything is settled on the first possession of a football game, but when Cincinnati took just five plays to go 79 yards for an opening touchdown Sunday, it proved to be a harbinger of the day to come for the Giants in a 31-13 defeat.
Not only did the Bengals jump out to a 7-0 lead but they did so by going to the one player the Giants most wanted to stop: wide receiver A.J. Green.
Green caught Andy Dalton’s pass on first-and-10 from the Cincinnati 21-yard-line for seven yards in front of cornerback Corey Webster.
They converted the short second-down play for a first down on a 5-yard gain over the left side by running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Dalton and Green again hooked up for seven yards on first-and-10, this time in front of cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Green-Ellis again converted the second-and-short situation into a first down, this time with a pickup of four yards up the middle.
This is where the pattern stopped. On first-and-10 from the Cincinnati 44, Dalton rolled out to his right following a run-action to the left. That action froze
the Giants’ secondary, namely Webster who appeared to believe he would be getting safety help behind him. There was no such help as Green backed up and waited for Dalton’s pass to find him alone at the 19. He cruised into the end zone with a touchdown in his eighth consecutive game.
Three catches, 70 yards and the end zone for Green were a bad combination for the Giants. Green ended up with seven catches for 85 yards – not an overwhelming total given his fast start – but he made his presence felt early. Even when he wasn’t catching passes he was dictating to the New York defense instead of the other way around.
On Cincinnati’s next possession, Andrew Hawkins took a short pass to the right side from Dalton, broke a tackle attempt by Jayron Hosley and went into the end zone for an 11-yard score and a 14-0 Cincinnati lead. Hawkins was in one-on-one coverage because Green ran a seam route into the end zone, bringing Webster with him. When Hawkins broke free from Hosley there was no hope for Webster to stop him.