Another Green opener gives life to Bengals

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Darrelle Revis had no answer for A.J. Green in a one-sided battle of titans.

E. RUTHERFORD, N.J. - A.J. Green says he studies the stats of the Hall-of-Famers because, well, it may be the only thing he's not shy about.

Yes, the Bengals' soft-spoken mega star says one day he'd like to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In Sunday's opener he took one of those steps to Canton when he torched future Hall-of-Famer cornerback Darrelle Revis on a career-high 12 catches for 180 yards, the last one with Revis pressing him and producing the utterly necessary 11 yards Mike Nugent needed to drill the winning field goal with 54 seconds left.

His favorite stat, by the way, is Jerry Rice's yardage total because it is so ridiculously ahead of everyone else. On his last catch he was more like his old workout buddy Calvin Johnson.

It was third-and-13 from the Jets 40 and Green ran a pivot route right at Revis that Dalton was able to read and Green got the necessary separation.

"Oh yeah, I know it's coming to me," Green said. "It had to. I was just trying to make a play. I should have gotten that first down. I definitely should have gotten that first down. But (Nugent) put it right through for us. And we came out with a win. It was a complete team win. Defense did their part, offense did their part."

And Green always seems to do his part. If you're counting at home, that's the 25th 100-yard game in his 77th NFL start.  He's well on his way to his sixth straight Pro Bowl, his sixth straight 1,000-yard season, his ….

"I don't look at my own stats,"" Green said. "There's still a long way to go."

But if Revis didn't come to cover Green, then his teammate came to praise him like a Hall-of-Famer.

Nose tackle Domata Peko:  "That's why people buy tickets. To watch guys like A.J. make plays. I saw some people in the seats up close and they were like, they can't believe what they see."

Quarterback Andy Dalton: "If he's not the best receiver in the league, he's one of the best."

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth: "A.J. is A.J. He's one of those special guys."

As usual, Green downplayed it. He deflected the praise to Dalton, his soulmate from the 2011 draft. How many times have we seen it? Since Green and Dalton came into the league, they have the third best road record (26-15) behind only Denver and New England. Dalton came into MetLife Stadium with only Tom Brady having a better road record in a minimum 30 starts and promptly jacked it to 25-15 with his 12th career fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive. Seven of them on the road with his last one coming in Pittsburgh last Nov. 1.

Guess where the Bengals head next week?

"It all starts with Andy and the way Andy conducts this offense the way he does," Green said. "And that's a big part why we're so successful. It starts with him. He gets us in some great plays.

"It just shows how poised he is. That guy is always smiling," Green said after watching Dalton sacked a career-high seven times.  "You can see how much he has grown from when we first got here until now. He's so confident, he's having fun, he knows what we have to do, he knows what kind of offense we have to put in to go score. That guy is one of the best. I'm telling you that because I've been dealing with him for six years and I've seen his level of play rise so high and today was another proof."

But isn't this more proof that Green not only dominates but defies? Even Revis seemed stunned in the fourth quarter when Green caught the back end of the ball as he dove into the sideline with a 32-yard catch that Dalton threw in such a way Green could shield himself from Revis.

And what is it about Green and openers? Green-Dalton is 4-2 and three of them have come with game-winning drives in which Green supplied the final catch for a come-back win. He did it in Cleveland as a rookie when his only catch was a 41-yard TD on a quick snap from backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. He did it two years ago in Baltimore with the clock ticking under five minutes and he juggled in Dalton's 77-yard floater.

Before Green caught the final one Sunday, he had two other ones in the final drive that featured a 15-yard face mask call on cornerback Michael Gilchrist when he grabbed Green after a nine-yard pickup with Dalton getting the ball out quickly in a bob and weave against the Jets' rush.

"Make a play. Try to get in field goal range. We practice this situation every day in practice," Green said. "It was nothing special. We just got a face mask call on me that gave us 15 yards and Jeremy (Hill) had some great runs and I'm happy."

But Green seemed to save his best opener for the biggest stage.

"Opening day is emotional already, but it's even more emotional when you play here in New York and all of the stuff that happened on 9/11," Green said. "So many emotions going through your body, just not football. We're just blessed to be here. A lot of people lost their lives in that tragedy. It makes you think about life.  Anything can happen and we're just blessed to play the game of football."

Brandon LaFell, the fifth different Opening Day receiver to start opposite Green, asked how many yards Green had as he met the media in front of his locker. That's because he was asked if he thought Revis had ever allowed 180 yards before.

"He had 180? Wheeew," LaFell whooped. "I don't know. All I know is he had a good day.

"Revis was following A.J. and I'm glad he did. Twelve out of 13 (targets) is a good day."

(This we do know according to ESPN. Green's 180 yards were the third most against a Revis team. And one of them is a Hall-of-Famer. Randy Moss had 183 against the Jets when Revis was a rookie in 2007 and Wes Welker had 192 in 2009.)

 As always, too, Green left with a touch of class. 

"Revis is a first ballot Hall of Famer. It's just an honor going against him," Green said. "That guy has nothing left to prove.  He's a first ballot Hall of Famer for sure. I'm trying to get where he is. That's what I'm trying to do."

Sunday should help with the voters.

 

Cincinnati Bengals take on the New York Jets in week 1 of the regular season 9/11/2016

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