There was a lot to like in the Cincinnati Bengals’ 38-31 win over the Washington Redskins Sunday at FedEx Field. The Bengals offense came alive; the team stays in first place; and for the first time this season, the defense started showing signs of life.
But not everything was rosy, and there are still some things the team needs to work on as the season moves along.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers for the Bengals in Week 3.
Winner: Andy Dalton and the Passing Game
Dalton recorded the second leg of his first back-to-back 300-yard passing games and did so in dominating fashion. Dalton was 19-for-27 with 328 yards and three touchdowns and picked apart the Redskins’ suspect secondary all afternoon. He did have an interception, but it came as he was getting hit.
Not to be outdone, noted passer Mohamed Sanu had a 73-yard touchdown pass, and the Bengals had 385 net passing yards.
That’s a pretty good day.
Winner: The Wide Receivers
A.J. Green had a monster game, with nine catches for 183 yards, his first true big game of the season.
But the “other” receivers also played exceptionally well.
Andrew Hawkins, Jermaine Gresham and Armon Binns each had touchdowns and at least 60 yards receiving, and, of course, Sanu had the big touchdown pass to Green.
While we’re on the subject, how about Andrew Hawkins? The diminutive receiver made a big play for the second week in a row and has emerged as a serious weapon for Dalton.
Loser: Rush Defense
Robert Griffin III had 85 yards rushing—several of which came on set run plays—and Washington collected 213 yards on the ground.
Considering that the Redskins never led and were facing a big deficit in the second half, the run game should not have been effective. But the Bengals defensive line just had trouble in stopping the run.
It needs to play better.
Loser: Rush Offense
BenJarvus Green-Ellis averaged only 2.2 yards per rush and finished with only 38 yards on the ground. On top of that, he lost a fumble for the first time in his NFL career.
Overall, the Bengals had only 93 yards on the ground.
As effective as Dalton was, the lack of a running game wasn’t that big of a deal, but the Bengals would like to have more production in the area.
Winner: Pass Rush
Carlos Dunlap came back in a big way and made the play of the game when he hit Griffin, knocked the ball loose and recovered it. With Dunlap dominating on his side of the line, Michael Johnson broke loose on the other side for three sacks.
With Dunlap, Johnson and tackle Geno Atkins hitting Griffin on every other play, the Bengals dominated the line.
Whatever issues the defense had in the game, they weren’t in the pass rush.
Loser: 2nd-Half Defense
The Redskins scored 17 unanswered points and pulled within seven on a late score. The Bengals defense seemed to get soft and allowed too many big plays while nursing a big lead.
If not for the offense’s big day, the defense would have lost the game.
Winner: Marvin Lewis and the Coaching Staff
Starting with Jay Gruden’s call of Sanu lining up at quarterback and throwing a pass on the first play of the game, the Bengals were aggressive all day. Green-Ellis scored on a direct snap, and both Green and Hawkins had nice runs on end-arounds.
Lewis also went for it on fourth down and called for a fake kick. Aggressive coaches win games.