It all came together for the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday against the New York Jets.
After two straight road wins, the Bengals (6-2) returned home and dominated the Jets, 49-9. Quarterback Andy Dalton threw five touchdown passes, four of which went to wide receiver Marvin Jones.
It was the fourth straight win for the Bengals, and their 13th in their last 16 regular season games.
As always, though, the Bengals’ success was largely because of their defense, which continued to harass opposing passers in Cincinnati. The Bengals returned two interceptions of quarterback Geno Smith for scores and recorded four sacks.
Meanwhile, on offense, Dalton finally seems to have learned how to spread the ball around and the results have spoken for themselves. Sunday was the first time Jones appeared in the starting lineup all season and he made sure he stays there, as his four touchdowns were a franchise record for the most receiving touchdowns in a game.
Of course, much of that success is due to the attention star receiver A.J. Green draws. But until now, Dalton had not been able to take advantage of favorable matchups for Jones. Now it seems the team has found a potent duo, as Green (three receptions, 115 yards) continues to make plays down the field while Jones has become a viable endzone target.
Cincinnati, though, failed to find success running the football, gaining only 79 yards on 25 carries. After rushing for 327 yards in wins against the Patriots and Bills in weeks five and six, over their last two games the Bengals have totalled just 136 yards in wins over the Detroit Lions and the Jets. If offensive coordinator Jay Gruden cannot figure out how to get more from his running backs, it will not be long before Dalton and the offense find themselves struggling to score again.