The Cincinnati Bengals are back to eyeing the playoffs.
The Kansas City Chiefs are looking forward to the end of the season.
Andy Dalton threw for 230 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, A.J. Green caught a touchdown pass in his ninth straight game and the Bengals beat the woeful Chiefs 28-6 on Sunday.
Green finished with six catches for 91 yards in another dazzling performance, Mohamed Sanu had a scoring grab and BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 101 yards and a touchdown as the Bengals (5-5) won their second straight following a maddening four-game losing streak.
Cincinnati plays its next four games against teams that began the day with losing records.
None of them are as bad as the Chiefs, though.
Jamaal Charles had 87 yards rushing for Kansas City (1-9), but that was the only highlight for a team that lost its seventh straight amid a gloomy backdrop at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs’ once-raucous home venue was only about half-full most of the game, and a good portion of those who showed up were dressed in black – a grass roots effort organized by fans who have been trying to pressure team ownership to clean out the front office.
Once again, an airplane towed a banner calling for general manager Scott Pioli to be fired.
The Chiefs’ performance on the field wasn’t much different than the rest of the year: They took an early lead for a change, but the offense couldn’t get going behind quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, and two more key players went down with injuries and did not return.
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe hurt his neck and right tackle Branden Albert hurt his back.
As if the Bengals weren’t just fine when the Chiefs had their full complement of players.
Dalton and Green shredded their porous pass defense, Ellis pounded away at a front line that had played better of late, and a middle-of-the-road Cincinnati defense looked like an iron curtain against a Kansas City offense that has been utterly inept.
The result: The Bengals are back to .500, and eying back-to-back postseason appearances for only the second time in franchise history, while the Chiefs have dropped seven straight games in a single season for the first time since Oct. 5-Nov. 23, 2008.
The Chiefs struck first for the second straight week, turning several nice runs by Charles into a 34-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, before reality set in again.
The Bengals marched 78 yards the other direction, twice converting on fourth down – once when Cedric Peerman ran 32 yards on a fake punt, and once when Dalton scrambled for 11 yards on fourth-and-7. Dalton capped the drive with a 5-yard fade pass to Green, who managed to stab the ball with one hand and then slap both feet into the end zone before falling out of bounds.
Peyton Hillis fumbled on the Chiefs’ ensuing possession, their league-leading 31st turnover this season, but they dodged trouble when Mike Nugent missed a 50-yard field-goal attempt.
Cincinnati made it 14-3 later in the second quarter when Dalton fooled the entire Kansas City defense on a perfectly executed naked bootleg. The 1-yard TD run came on fourth down after a video review showed that Gresham had been stopped just shy of the goal line on a 10-yard catch.
The Bengals’ most impressive drive of the game came after they forced the Chiefs to punt for the third straight time, an 11-play, 78-yard masterpiece in which they faced third down once.
Ellis capped that one off with a short touchdown plunge for a 21-3 lead.
Cassel deftly led the Chiefs to a field goal in the closing seconds of the half, but coach Romeo Crennel elected to put Quinn into the game at quarterback to start the third quarter.
Cassel sustained a concussion earlier this season, and then lost his job to Quinn, who was active for the first time since sustaining his own concussion Oct. 28 against Oakland.
Quinn didn’t fare much better leading the Kansas City offense, and the Bengals tacked on Sanu’s touchdown catch in the fourth quarter for the final margin.