Neither side disappointed.
Cincinnati ended up getting the better of the offensively strong Redskins in Week 3, pulling out a 38-31 victory in a contest in which Washington never held the lead, despite putting up 24 second-half points.
The game opened with a direct snap to rookie receiver Mohamed Sanu, who then tossed a 73-yard pass to A.J. Green for a very quick 7-0 lead. The Bengals were then unrelenting, scoring four more touchdowns and a field goal.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed 19 of his 27 pass attempts for 328 yards, three touchdowns and a career-high yards-per-completion average of 12.1. Only a pick-six interception tarnished what was otherwise a terrific day.
This was just Dalton's fourth game with more than 300 passing yards, a testament both to his improving receiving corps, his increased comfort in the pocket and, of course, an underwhelming Redskins secondary and pass rush.
Cincinnati started the year with a bit of a controversy over who would emerge as the No. 2 wide receiver. After three weeks, it seems that it will be Armon Binns complementing Green and Andrew Hawkins playing the role of the slot receiver.
On the day, Green had four catches on five targets, for 104 yards and a score; Binns caught all three passes thrown his way for 63 yards and a touchdown; Hawkins had two receptions for 66 yards and broke off yet another huge scoring catch and run, this time for 59 yards.
In the Bengals' first two games, scoring was at a premium while opponents' yardage was at an all-time high. Cincinnati gave up over 400 yards of offense in each of the last two weeks. This week, there was a slight improvement: Washington racked up 381 yards (168 net passing, 213 net rushing).
The Bengals' biggest task this Sunday was to contain Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, the man through whom the entire Washington offense flows.
Even with a work-in-progress secondary, the Bengals were able to keep Griffin's yardage and completions down, and succeeded in bringing pressure for all four quarters. Cincinnati's defense notched six sacks (a whopping three from underrated linebacker Michael Johnson and one from defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who made his return to the field), along with 13 total quarterback hits and eight tackles for loss.
Griffin did have a decent day running the ball, with 12 carries for 85 yards and a score, and Alfred Morris also contributed 17 runs for 78 yards and a score of his own, but the Redskins still could not manage to catch up to the Bengals.
Four Cincinnati receivers had a touchdown apiece. RG3's receiving corps—far less dynamic both on paper and on the field than Cincinnati's—was not nearly as productive.
Though Cincinnati's offense won't be offered defenses this soft on a weekly basis, the fact that it did capitalize on the opportunity has to give the team confidence that the passing game that its been trying to build the past couple of years is truly coming together.
It's disconcerting that the Bengals defense allowed 24 second-half points, but it's also not unexpected. The fact that the offense could step up and compensate for the defense's shortcomings is more the story of the day.
While Cincinnati continues to get things in order on that side of the ball, they now know its offense—primarily, the passing game—is more than capable of carrying the team to a win. Even in a shootout.
This young offense has matured before our eyes in its defeat of Washington.