- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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Sense of nostalgia: Sunday's 40-point blowout was the Bengals' largest margin of victory since their 45-10 win against Chicago in 2009. Very few players in Cincinnati's locker room were there for that one. Veteran cornerback Chris Crocker, who rejoined the team via free agency in September, was among the lucky ones who saw both, though. "These guys weren't even in the locker room. These guys don't even remember that," he said before adding that this season is beginning to feel even better than that one. That year, the blueprint for this recent string of successful seasons was laid. The 2009 season was the second with double-digit victories for coach Marvin Lewis, who arrived in 2003.
Defense dominant: As has been the case much of the season, the Bengals' defense once again played a valuable role in a win. For the second time this season, the unit didn't allow a touchdown. Nick Folk's three field goals were the Jets' only offense, much like the Patriots' two field goals were their only points at Paul Brown Stadium three weeks ago. In addition to the lack of scores and the remarkably low 3.7 yards per offensive play the defense allowed, the unit also returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The first of those was Crocker's 32-yard romp. The 33-year-old said his defense was just flat-out better than the Jets' offense. Is that defense better than the other 31 offenses in the NFL? "I think so," Crocker said, as safety Reggie Nelson walked by and gave him a high-five. "But you have to take it. You have to go out there and earn it. We're a good team when we want to be."
Dalton more dominant: As good as the Bengals' defense was, the larger story revolved around Andy Dalton, the third-year quarterback who right now can seemingly do no wrong. Just when it appeared he had hit his ceiling with a 372-yard, three-touchdown outing against the Lions last week, he came out and had yet another 300-yard, three-touchdown game. It was his third consecutive such performance and came in arguably the finest showing of his career. According to ESPN Stats & Info, his 98.9 QBR against the Jets was his best in a single game. Dalton finished with 325 passing yards and five touchdowns. It was only the fifth time in franchise history a quarterback had that many touchdowns. Carson Palmer and Boomer Esiason each accomplished the feat twice.
Still diverse: While Marvin Jones' eight-catch, four-touchdown performance dominated headlines, there was another story to the passing game worth mentioning. The Bengals' passing offense was quite diverse, as seven different players caught passes. It's the third straight game Dalton has hooked up with that many. Five of the seven had multiple receptions, including A.J. Green, who had three catches for 115 yards. Tyler Eifert, Dane Sanzenbacher and Jermaine Gresham each had two receptions.