Monday, October 1, 2012
Bengals 27, Jaguars 10
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cincinnati's season opener is looking more and more like an aberration.
Andy Dalton accounted for three touchdowns, including one to A.J. Green, and the Bengals handled the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-10 Sunday for their third consecutive win.
The Bengals (3-1) haven't lost since a 44-13 setback to Baltimore in Week 1. Dalton has been a main reason for the turnaround. He threw for 300 or more yards and three touchdowns the last two weeks.
Against Jacksonville, he completed 20 of 31 passes for 244 yards, with two TD passes and a scoring run. He didn't take a sack for the first time this season and found Green every time he needed a big play.
Green finished with six receptions for 117 yards and a score, an 18-yarder that sent Jaguars fans scrambling for the exits early in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars (1-3) had hoped for a day of celebration as retired running back Fred Taylor was inducted into the team's ring of honor.
Instead, they left with another disappointment, having dropped 17 of their last 23 games.
Cincinnati's defense was just as much a factor as Dalton and Green. Despite playing without starting cornerbacks Nate Clements and Leon Hall and two backups, the Bengals finished with six sacks for the second consecutive week and allowed their fewest yards in nearly two years.
"We played with a chip on our shoulder out there because we felt that we haven't been playing our best defense," Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko said. "Our best defense is ahead of us. ... The D-line put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. We knew our guys were young in the secondary and we wanted to take some of the pressure off them."
The Jaguars thought they could take advantage of the fill-ins. So instead of relying on Maurice Jones-Drew, who had 177 yards rushing last week, Jacksonville turned things over to Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert completed 23 of 34 passes for 186 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He was clearly outplayed by fellow second-year quarterback Dalton.
"I said it from Day 1, Andy is going to be one of the best ones," Green said. "Once he gets into rhythm, he's one of the best in the league. I'm just fortunate and blessed to have a quarterback like that."
The Jaguars felt blessed to have Taylor for 11 seasons.
More than 30 former Jaguars, including Kyle Brady, Mark Brunell, Fernando Bryant, Donovin Darius, Mike Hollis, Keenan McCardell and Marcus Stroud, were on hand for his induction.
They witnessed another inept performance by the home team.
"It's tough. We wanted to send Fred out the right way," Gabbert said. "Fred is a phenomenal running back, a great person. We definitely would like to have had a win for him. But we didn't."
The Jaguars weren't even all that competitive.
The Bengals outgained Jacksonville 382-212. It was the fewest yards Cincinnati has allowed since giving up 199 to Baltimore in the final game of the 2010 season.
"If we can exert that type of pressure on quarterbacks every game -- we have the offense to score points -- we're going to win a lot of games," Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins said.
The Jaguars got off to a terrible start for the second consecutive week. They trailed 14-3 last week at Indianapolis before Jones-Drew dug them out of the hole.
This time, they were down 17-7 at halftime thanks to missed opportunities, a huge special teams error and the first of several Dalton-to-Green passes.
Linebacker Kyle Bosworth intercepted Dalton's first pass of the game and was headed toward the end zone when he fumbled without being touched. The Bengals got the ball back and put together a 74-yard drive that ended in a field goal.
Just when the Jaguars looked as if they were getting some momentum, leading 7-3 and forcing two punts, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis used a fake punt to seize control. Cedric Peerman took the direct snap and gained 48 yards. Dalton found Chris Pressley for a 1-yard score and a 10-7 lead a few plays later.
Dalton connected with Green for a 42-yard gain on Cincinnati's next drive, a perfectly thrown ball over Rashean Mathis that set up Dalton's 1-yard plunge just before halftime.
Dalton and Green sealed the victory with their 18-yarder in the fourth -- another victory and another week removed from that season-opening debacle.
"We're looking forward, looking ahead and can't worry about what happened early on," Dalton said. "We're more consistent and making the big plays and doing what we need to do."
NOTES: Taylor became the fourth person inducted into the team's ring of honor, called the Pride of the Jaguars. Left tackle Tony Boselli and former owners Wayne and Delores Weaver also are in. ... Jaguars WR Laurent Robinson sustained his second concussion in as many weeks. "Definitely a concern," coach Mike Mularkey said. ... Jones-Drew ran 13 times for 38 yards. ... The Jaguars failed to get a sack for the third straight game. ... Cincy's Green leads the AFC in receiving.
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