Dalton outshines RG3 as Bengals top Redskins 38-31
Andy Dalton had a screen pass intercepted in his own end zone, giving the other team a touchdown. Michael Johnson had the first three-sack game of his career.
Robert Griffin III lost a fumble on one of many jarring hits absorbed by the rookie quarterback. Even BenJarvus Green-Ellis put the ball on the turf, losing a fumble for the first time in his five-year NFL career.
There was indeed some defense to be played in the Cincinnati Bengals' 38-31 victory over the Washington Redskins. It just seemed like more of the exception than the rule.
''We knew we had to keep scoring,'' Dalton said. ''The way they play offense, the guys that they have, they can put the ball in the end zone quickly.''
Cincinnati (2-1) and Washington (1-2) fully expected to field top-10 defenses this year, yet they've been competitive in the early going thanks to offense. Dalton and the Bengals were especially creative Sunday, besting Griffin and the Redskins with plenty of razzle-dazzle in a game not decided until the final drive.
''We're making plays,'' receiver A.J. Green said, ''all over the field.''
No doubt about that.
The Bengals opened the game with rookie receiver Mohamed Sanu throwing a 73-yard touchdown to Green. Green-Ellis took a direct snap on a 1-yard touchdown run to make the score 24-7 in the second quarter. Cincinnati also ran several end-arounds and used a no-huddle package that befuddled the Redskins. Dalton completed scoring throws of 48 yards to Armon Binns and 59 yards to Andrew Hawkins.
There was also Dalton's less-flashy 6-yard toss to tight end Jermaine Gresham early in the fourth quarter that put the Bengals ahead after they had blown the 17-point lead. The strike over the middle to Hawkins created a two-touchdown cushion with 7:08 left to play. Cincinnati's offense has put up 30-plus points in back-to-back weeks for the first time since November 2006.
Griffin brought the Redskins back, but even the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is going to have trouble keeping pace if Washington continues giving up 30-plus points - which has happened every game so far in this young season.
''It's disappointing,'' Washington coach Mike Shanahan said. ''I thought the defense was going to be the strength of our football team.''
Griffin's 2-yard run at the end of a 90-yard drive cut the lead to 38-31 with 3:35 remaining, and a potential game-tying drive went from Washington's 2 all the way to Cincinnati's 19 in the final two minutes.
Then it got weird.
Griffin was sacked for a 15-yard loss. Then he spiked the ball with 7 seconds left. Then tight end Fred Davis was called for a false start. Then coach Marvin Lewis and the Bengals, anticipating a 10-second runoff, thought the game was over and walked onto the field en masse. Then an official called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a livid Redskins sideline.
Then the officials - replacement refs while the regulars are locked out in a labor dispute with the league - mistakenly marked off a total of 25 yards for the two penalties, instead of 20.
All of which meant the game ended with Griffin's long incompletion on a third-and-50 from Washington's 41.
It was the second straight week in which an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty thwarted a Redskins drive that could've tied the game in the final two minutes. Last Sunday, Joshua Morgan threw the ball at an opposing player in a three-point loss to the St. Louis Rams.
''We can't have those type of things in those situations,'' Griffin said.
Morgan took responsibility immediately after his gaffe, but Shanahan was evasive after Sunday's game when asked about the final penalty, other than to indicate there was apparent confusion among the officials.
''They threw the flag at us - and there was half of the (Bengals) football team on the field,'' Shanahan said. ''I was disappointed in that.''
Dalton completed 19 of 27 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns. Green caught nine passes for a career-high 183 yards and a score.
Griffin repeatedly took a pounding, taking six sacks as he completed 21 of 34 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown. He also ran 12 times for 85 yards. He lost the fumble on a hit by Carlos Dunlap, who was making his season debut after missing the first two games with a sprained right knee.
''The one thing I won't do personally is quit or play scared. I've never played scared in my life. So it doesn't matter how many times they hit me, I'm going to continue to get back up,'' Griffin said. ''Even if they have to cart me off the field, I'm going to get off that cart and walk away.''
NOTES: The Redskins played most of the game without LT Trent Williams, who injured his right knee and will have an MRI. ... Washington CBs Cedric Griffin and Crezdon Butler left the game with hamstring injuries. ... Cincinnati played without CB Leon Hall (injured calf).
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