The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 36-21, to lift their record to 4-0. The four straight wins matches a franchise record set in 2005. That year, the Bengals went 11-5 and clinched the AFC North. The start is the third best in franchise history.
The Bengals came out fast and furious. Before the first quarter was over, Cincinnati was up on Kansas City 14-3. Andy Dalton continued his emergence as one of the premier quarterbacks in the league. He picked up right where he left off. Dalton completed his first 10 passes for 179 yards. The Red Rifle is a man on a mission. The highlight of the first scoring drive was a circus play between Dalton and A.J. Green. The snap to Dalton was low and on the ground. From the shotgun position, Dalton remained focused, picked up the errant snap and found a streaking Green on the sidelines. The completion went for 36 yards and put the Bengals deep in Chiefs territory.
The Bengals went up by seven, when Jeremy Hill sliced through the right side of the Kansas City defense and churned eight yards into the end zone. The play put the Bengals on top to stay.
Kansas City answered with a 13 play, 78 yard drive. Cario Santos cut the deficit with a 22-yard field goal. Santos eventually completed six more kicks for a total of seven in the game. That effort made him second in NFL history for field goals made in a game. According to The New York Times, former Titans kicker Rob Bironas holds the record with eight.
The Bengals converted their fourth straight 80-yard drive, stretching back to last week in Baltimore when Dalton hit eight of his first eight for 122 yards. For the fourth straight game Dalton hit triple digits in passer rating. While completing 17 of 24 passes, he averaged 13.4 yards per attempt while racking up 321 yards and a 127.1 passer rating.
The Bengals defense finally gave up a huge chunk of yardage. The Chiefs were able to outgain the Bengals in yardage 461 to 445. The Chiefs also ran more plays from the line of scrimmage. Kansas City also held the ball for nearly 37 minutes. But the Bengals stiffened and didn’t allow the Chiefs into the end zone when it mattered. With key players hurting and on the sidelines, they dug deep.
There is a new sense of confidence with this year’s version of the Cincinnati Bengals. They finally have the swagger of a playoff contender. Tackle Andrew Whitworth expressed that pride to ESPN.
”We started the season with a special intent, and that’s to be great. We’re not satisfied with being good anymore.”
The offensive attack for Cincinnati has been balanced. As Dalton and the Bengals offense keep moving forward, the defense is making coordinators notice too. Alex Smith was sacked five times and was hurried all day. The Bengals secondary gave up 386 yards to Smith. But with no touchdowns in the red zone, the yardage was nothing more than statistic padding.
Domata Peko played like a man possessed. The man with the flowing mane sacked Alex Smith twice and put tremendous pressure on the Kansas City O-line. His two sacks are just one shy of his career high of three in 2013. The intensity level of the Bengals defense is on par with the offense. That’s usually a deadly combination.
Dalton has been a huge cog in the Bengals turnaround. His ability to make plays on the run is much better than in years past. He had a big scrambling play at the start of the second half. He escaped the rush and found Brandon Tate for a spectacular 55-yard touchdown pass.
The Bengals went up 22-12 and never looked back.
[Photos by Joe Robbins, John Grieshop / Getty Images]