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Quick hits: Defense sacks 'Skins

Posted Sep 23, 2012


Armon Binns

» The Bengals recorded six sacks for the first time since the 2009 season. Defensive end Michael Johnson had a career-high three, which is believed to be the most sacks by a Bengal since Antwan Odom had five against Green Bay on September 20, 2009.

"The Fisher-Price package is back, though we're not young anymore," Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson said.

Johnson, a third-round pick in 2009, was referring to the nickname of the defensive line anchored by 2010 draft picks Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap played for the first time since he injured his knee in the preseason opener and played primarily on passing downs. He had a huge play late in the first half when he sacked and stripped Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and recovered the fumble at the Redskins 12.

"I didn't think it was a sack because it was an option pitch," Dunlap said. "Running quarterbacks tend to hold it loosely, so I tried to knock it out of his hands. The back couldn't see it for a minute and I was able to (recover it)."

But Dunlap was raving about Johnson's huge game.

"When (RG III) goes to the bathroom tonight he's going to see Mike Johnson right behind him."

Two snaps later running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis took a direct snap for a one-yard touchdown run over rookie right guard Kevin Zeitler to give the Bengals a 24-7 lead with 3:13 left in the first half.

» Johnson, coming off a game he played 90 percent of the snaps for a depleted defensive line, figures he played about the same amount Sunday. But with Dunlap playing his first game and new defensive end Wallace Gilberry playing a few snaps, Johnson said he felt more refreshed.

"The big thing was getting the rotation back," Johnson said.

» Another key defensive player was cornerback Nate Clements, who started his first game as a safety in his 12th season. Clements played about half the snaps at safety and corner and helped the Bengals not bite on Griffin's play-action passes.

"It started up front with the defensive line," Clements said. "They did a great job getting to him and taking him out of his rhythm."

» It was easy to forget after the wild afternoon of 69 points and a total of 859 yards that it all started on the first snap when Bengals rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu lined up as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation and quarterback Andy Dalton in the slot to his right. Next to Dalton was wide receiver A.J. Green. Sanu faked the handoff and launched a perfect 73-yard touchdown pass. Green ran past a safety and DeAngelo Hall, and Sanu put his first NFL pass on the money.

Dalton joked when he lined up, "I thought they were going to double-team me."

"We saw what a hose Sanu had during a flag football event in the spring," left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "That kind of word gets back to the coaches."

Sanu, who played quarterback a few times in college at Rutgers and figures he threw four or five touchdown passes for the Scarlet Knights, said the play had been put in early in the week, when offensive coordinator Jay Gruden told him he was going to throw it on the first play of the game.

Sanu had three TD throws as as junior, including a 51-yarder on the first play of the game against, of all teams, the University of Cincinnati.

"I've done it before," Sanu said. "I was waiting for them to make the Wildcat check. We knew they were going to make the Wildcat check and I looked up at the play clock, everything was good, and the I just tried to make sure I could throw it where A.J. could catch it. ... He's pretty hard to overthrow."

Green said the Bengals ran it twice in practice Friday and head coach Marvin Lewis said, "Let's run that again."

"And we scored and it was wide open again, so we used it for the first play," Green said.



» Sanu's 73-yarder was the longest first NFL pass since Steelers punter Josh Miller threw one 81 yards on Dec. 28, 2003. It is also the longest catch of Green's career.  

"He's got a perfect passer rating, doesn't he," Dalton asked of Sanu. And he does. He's at 158.3.

» Green and Dalton were both surprised that the Redskins primarily played man coverage on Green. He finished with a career-high 183 yards and also tied his career high with nine catches.

"I feel like when I'm man on man I should be able to make a play," Green said, who also ran a reverse for 11 more yards.

"I see one-on-one, my eyes light up."

» But it wasn't just Green. Last week the Bengals got touchdown passes of 40 yards to two different players for the first time in eight years. On Sunday, they had three with slot receiver Andrew Hawkins scoring his second touchdown in as many weeks on a 59-yarder, and Armon Binns scored his first NFL touchdown on a 48-yarder. Those were both also the longest catches of their careers.

Elias said Sunday was the first game in franchise history where three different Bengals each had a touchdown catch of at least 48 yards.

Last week the Bengals got at least 56 yards receiving from four receivers for the first time in 23 years. This Sunday they saw four receivers have at least 63 yards with Hawkins getting 66, Binns 63 and tight end Jermaine Gresham 64.  

» Dalton enjoyed his first back-to-back 300-yard games with 328 yards, and for the second straight week had a career-best passer rating with 132.9.

"We've got a lot of young guys and there is no fear out of them," Whitworth said. "We don't have to rely on one guy. A.J. Green is the star of the offense and Andy Dalton is the quarterback, but anybody can make a big play at any time ... we're starting to reach our potential."

» Hawkins, who had a 50-yard touchdown last Sunday, might have made his biggest play covering Kevin Huber's last punt with 1:47 left. Hawkins downed the punt at the 2-yard line.

"You figure they're going to have a hard time going 98 yards," said Hawkins, believed to have the first back-to-back games of 50-yard TD receptions since Chad Johnson in 2006. 

» It was a pretty happy locker room celebrating the team's first road win of the season, the most points ever under Dalton, and the most points on the road since a 38-25 win in Miami in the last game of the 2007 season.

» In the postgame locker room the Bengals serenaded head coach Marvin Lewis with a round of "Happy Birthday" on his 54th birthday.

» Dalton bounced back from the worst possible start imaginable when he threw an end zone interception on his first pass of the game. Dalton got blindsided by outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan as he was trying to throw an escape valve pass to Green-Ellis and the ball fluttered off Green-Ellis's fingertips into the hands of linebacker Rob Jackson.

"That kind of thing doesn't happen very often," Dalton said. "It was early."

» Safety Reggie Nelson appeared to get shaken up on the game's final play, but it didn't appear to be serious.

» Green-Ellis had his first NFL career fumble after 590 touches when the ball was poked out and recovered by Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson.

"He was on top of me and he ripped it," Green-Ellis said.

Lewis was just glad it occurred in a victory.

"Everybody's been talking about it," he said. "I kind of thought that was inevitable at some point, and I'm glad we survived it. That's all I can say."

Asked if he was surprised, Green-Ellis shrugged and said, "It's football. I told you guys I've always said it's something I don't think about."

» Asked is it was the most unique game plan he's had, Lewis said, "Probably the most innovative. We used all the guys today."

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